Moment # 5: Carl and Ellie’s love story sequence at the beginning of “UP”.
Among Pixar’s collection of wonderful productions, “UP” stands as one of the sweetest, more emotionally charged animated films in their collection.
Whereas previous Pixar films excel in carrying an idea through with clarity and consistency, “UP” packs much of its punch within the first half hour to subsequentially turn into an ad-hoc adventure involving, among other things, a floating house, a group of talking dogs and an odd looking bird.
Before the silliness begins, “UP” opens with a love story that was beautifully captured by a sequence that lasted no more than a handful of minutes. It starts just after we are introduced to Carl and Ellie, who meet as little kids in an abandoned house. Carl is a short, quiet, dorky-looking boy, while Ellie is a fast-talking little girl who constantly rambles about crazy adventures, treasure-hunting and exotic travels.
The sequence begins to the music of Michael Giacchino, setting the mood gracefully to a very compelling series of clips that perfectly summarize a loving, almost idyllic relationship. Digging in more deeply, the sequence sets up an argument that is central to the film: Carl and Ellie may have forgotten their childhood dreams, but married life, by each other’s side, became their adventure.
The beauty of the sequence lies not only in the intrinsic value of the compelling love story it presents, but also in the simplicity of the delivery, using imagery instead of words to reveal a great deal about the characters, most especially about Carl, who we watch as an old man filled with regret, thinking he had failed to give the love of his life the sorts of adventures she dreamed of as a little girl.
The sequence is believable and touching, driven by Pixar’s inventiveness, taking advantage of the artistic licenses that animation gives to set up the story of Carl as an old man, in an emotionally driven, self discovery journey that will make him appreciate life once again after the passing of Ellie.
Next in the Best Moments in Film History: I will be discussing a magnificent moment towards the end of Alfonso Cuaron’s powerful futuristic drama, 2006’s “Children of Men”