You know that scene in UP, the one where Carl and Ellie have their life play out before us? Their lives start as young kids who meet over a shared interest in exploring South America.
They get married, save money for their future life in Paradise Falls, and life constantly gets in their way. A flat tire, a broken leg, a tree falls on their house. It constantly empties their savings and with it their life in Paradise Falls. Ellie even miscarries a baby, and despite the gravity of the situation, It’s a beautiful four minutes of cinema. Pixar managed to tell a better story in four minutes than most movies can do in a hundred and four minutes — all without a single spoken word.
UP is my favorite movie. The characters are lovable and relatively pedestrian, yet flawed and adventurous. The music is perfectly timed and relevant. The plot has its twists on a classic carpe diem theme.
Who isn’t Carl or Ellie? Carl had big dreams as a child, got married and lost sight of his dreams but never his love. He sold balloons at the zoo Ellie worked at as a zookeeper. He retired and is widowed only to have his world around him change and collapse. With exception of never failing at love, his experience mirrors that of you and me.
Carl loses his wife to death, but never stops believing she’s there. He gets jaded and bitter in his old age — maybe he always was. Maybe I have, too. Pixar took the storybook and rewrote the book.
There’s so much about UP I admire, respect, and envy. I admire the team at Pixar that wrote, animated, scored, and produced this film. I respect their talent and skills and envy the ability to do it. We should all be so lucky to attach our names to a project that as far reaching and wonderful as UP.
As much as I admire the technical and artistic chops of Pixar for such real and flawed animated characters, I admire and relate to Carl, too.
Since I first saw UP in 2009, I’ve wished for the love that Carl had. But “had” is the key word, because I inevitability question the pain of the inevitable loss of love.
Is 50 years of love worth the heartache that is destined for us all? Or is 50 years of solitude and loneliness, which is likely to shorten your life anyway, a better alternative?
Most people would quickly favor a long life filled with love, but if you lose it enough times you have to begin questioning the fleeting value.
I’m thinking of the life I want to have, just like Carl and Ellie did. Even though I know that life likely won’t permit me to live out the dreams I’ve always had. Despite serious setbacks along the way, I’m lucky to have met Jeremiah — my partner of over a year now.
We should all be so lucky.