There’s a reason why I’ve always mentally braced myself before watching a movie by Pixar. The team behind each and every Pixar movie just brings out both the kid and adult inside of you. The almost impeccable record (almost because I simply couldn’t get around Cars and Planes — must I explain myself why?) that Pixar studios have is just incredible.
The storyline, nuances and catch in each film makes Disney, well, Disney. And the latest movie, Inside Out does it again − without conversations within the film that might point to the obvious, Disney’s Pixar managed to teach you lessons about life that you probably didn’t realize at all.
1. When Bing Bong faded into nothingness.
Bing Bong is Riley’s childhood imaginary friend. In an attempt to escape from the Memory Dump, both Joy and Bing Bong tried use the wagon rocket, but Bing Bong realizes that their combined weight made their attempts futile so he sacrifices and leaped out of the wagon rocket.
Needless to say, this is one tear-jerking scene. What Bing Bong represents isn’t just an imaginary friend you might have when you were young; he represents all the memories that you have collected down the years. In order to save the ones you want, you have to let the others go.
It is a hard truth but one can never remember everything. It is a bittersweet experience but you have to sacrifice certain memories so that you can collect more of them. Bing Bong also faded in this scene and this telling moment brought out another hard truth: there are memories in our lives that we can never recall, no matter how hard we try to. They are what they are and life’s like this, once you choose to discard some things in your life, there is a chance that you will never get them back should you ever want to.
2. Multi-colored orbs that represent (core) memories.
If you realize, the ending scene was brilliant without any pinpointing to what the screenplay is actually trying to bring out to viewers. Joy had always thought that the more bright yellow orbs collected the better it is because that would mean Riley is happy, at least most of the time. But we all know this is an impossible truth. We simply cannot be happy all the time. Happiness isn’t just an emotion based on itself and a memory termed as a “happy” one simply cannot exist without degrees. Emotions come in scales and degrees and more often than not, different emotions are coupled together. An overall ‘happy’ memory that Riley experienced when she cried and hugged her parents was a happy memory tinged with sadness, longing for the past and fear of the unknown.
As much as we’d like to completely separate and single out our emotions, the truth is we just can’t. Even happiness is synonymous with joy, excitement, enlightenment and so on. Emotions are varying degrees of feelings and we have learnt to cope when experiencing a surge of mixed emotions.
3. The role of sadness.
Joy was adamant throughout the film to isolate Sadness so that Riley can stay happy, only to understand that happiness can and should co-exist with sadness. Sadly, we cannot be happy forever. As paradoxical as this sounds, the struggle that Joy had and why she couldn’t comprehend the role of Sadness touches close to my heart. Because we know we will never win this fight for happiness yet we still do fight for it. We’re unable to accept negativity as it is and we label negativity as it is, without giving a thought of how this could turn around and empower us instead. We’re fighting for happiness by fighting against sadness when actually these emotions are not at war at all. Perhaps the day that you learn to shed tears of joy is the day you will realize that happiness and sadness are not contradictory emotions at all.
4. Personality islands.
The idea of personality islands introduced in the film also brought about an interesting aspect of ourselves. That the frequency of certain emotions felt at turning points in our lives shape us into who we are, from mundane events such as daily interactions with people (which created ‘Friendship island’ in Riley’s case) to major events such as winning or losing a competition (which created ‘Hockey Island’). But I hope we do not fail to realize that the continuous falling apart of Riley’s personality islands throughout the film wasn’t just a build-up of a film climax−it’s so much more than that & no, I’m not reading too much into this. The personality islands shape us into who we are, probably for a few years, probably for a longer period of time but change is still the only constant so trust Disney to remind us that we change as time passes. We lose some of the personality traits we use to have and we gain some others in return.
5. I lava you.
Recently, before each Disney film rolls, a Disney short film precedes. Nevertheless, the power of a short story can sometimes be forgotten and Disney never fails to bring the timeless values back again in a matter of minutes. Lava was the Disney’s Pixar short that precedes Inside Out and might I say, in precisely 5 minutes and 49 seconds, this short film with just a song forcefully reminds us that Mother Nature and Love are not separate entities and should not be treated as such. Nature has a spirit too (or in this case, mountains) and we should love and embrace nature instead of forsaking or abusing it. Everything around us happens for a reason; we might not understand the reasons just yet.
So I don’t know about you, but I got to say, I’m having major cartoon hangover right now. All thanks to Disney. And trust me − if you can relate to any of the lessons above, then you’re going to realize more on your own just by replaying the films again but at different stages in your life. Watch Inside Out again five years later and five years after that; it’s going to feel different, I promise.
Because whoever told you that cartoons are for kids lied.