Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #12 - Up (2009)
Seventy eight year old Carl and his young friend discover a prized destination and more importantly a surprising friendship with each other.
Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson (co-director)
Writers: Pete Docter (story by), Bob Peterson (story by)
Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger
Imagine trying to encapsulate an entire relationship between a couple - from the day they’re married until the day one of them dies - in a matter of minutes! Imagine doing this through a wordless animation montage.
That’s what the makers of the animation film Up (2009) did. This Walt Disney, Pixar opening, often referred to as ‘Married Life’ won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition – in no small measure due to the emotions it conveyed while screening. Poetry in motion married to economy of expression make this sequence a masterpiece in understated yet poignant cinematic storytelling.
Sometimes they’re appealing because they’re so human, so everyday.
The end result is not only a bittersweet memory that underpins the rest of the movie, but also one of the most endearing opening scenes in all film (animation or live action) one that couples worldwide can easily relate to. It also demonstrates powerfully why opening scenes needn’t always be typical action-thriller, suspense-horror. Sometimes they’re appealing because they’re so human, so everyday.
The first shots have them both wide-eyed with full-blown smiles, the church wedding, setting up home together right down to adjusting the furniture, picnics, holidaying. Then some more intimate scenes, just reading separately but in togetherness, dreaming of having children. There’s a touching shot of them setting up ‘baby’s’ room with bright colours and happy things and the very next shot coming to terms with not being able to have a baby! He gradually nurtures her from depression back to life and living. Then putting aside for a rainy day. Then growing old together – shown through one of the most imaginative shots (she helping him with his tie, each day, each week, each month, each year, each decade). Retaining, reinforcing their affection for each other, finding new ways to be happy even if it’s time with children who are strangers, not their own. Helping each other with chores around the house, remembering their fun times, young times.
Until one day, she falls seriously ill and is bed-ridden. Even then he finds a way to cheer her up. She cheers him up right back. And once she passes away he’s left with memories – only this time he lives and re-lives them on his own.