*Spoilers, ye be warned…
How great of a moment is this beginning sequence! Never have I seen a movie (yet) where I feel like I have experienced a lifetime with characters in a matter of four and a half minutes. Pixar has a way of tugging at our heart strings.
They capture all the significant moments of being married: buying first house, putting it together, having kids, heartbreaks, life inconveniences and growing old. They manage to put all of these into a short scene. At the end of it, you feel as if you have already watched an entire movie – at least emotionally you feel that way…
One reason why they included Ellie being unable to have children was to make people care more about the story. Co-director Pete Docte thought about cutting the moment, but decided to leave it for the rest of the film to be built around. You can find the analysis and quote here.
By having this melancholy moment inserted into the movie, it sets up for the rest of the story. If they did have kids then the rest of the movie would be about Carl taking care of them. Instead, they chose to have this tragic moment to explain why a widowed Carl is stoic and unhappy. He doesn’t have anyone else now and wants to be left alone.
What else is great about this sequence is that it is done almost completely silent! The only sound is the Oscar-nominated score. Without saying a word, you see and experience the couples life. Pixar does a great job of showing – not telling. Hard to make audiences feel so connected and understanding towards a character in a matter of minutes without saying a word, yet Pixar does it again! By having no sound, they have the audience fill in the gaps of what you are missing to bring you in closer.
Perhaps the best reaction to the scene can be found in an interview with the director. When asked about if he’s had any responses that have resonated with him in particular, he responds:
“The one that springs to me is from a woman who wrote to me. We’ll get letters from time to time, mostly from younger people who are interested in animation. But this was from a woman in her 70s who wrote that she had just lost her husband a couple of months before the film came out. And she didn’t want to sit around the house, so to cheer herself up, she went to see “Up.” And as I’m reading this, I’m going, “Oh, no….” because this is obviously very close to home for her. But it turned out to be a very restorative thing for her, because she said that as she watched the movie, she felt like she was getting to spend a little more time with her husband. It was very meaningful to me that that film could do that for someone.”
You can find the whole interview here.
Always fun experiencing the magic that Pixar seamlessly creates so consistently. Looking forward to the next movies coming out!
What did you think of the opening sequence? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!