Disney's Defectors and the Pixar-phonic Sound System
by Vadim Rizov
Let"s start with silence. 2009"s Up, like most Pixar movies, takes place in a landscape that"s recognizably part of the real world (a South American plateau), yet not really (a carefully unnamed plateau, one "Paradise Falls" of the imagination). The air is silent and dry, charged with the menace of potential swooping predators. Cranky old Carl Frederickson (voiced by Ed Asner) is here, having attempted to follow all his life in the footsteps of explorer Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer), whose exploits have inspired him his whole life to follow in the prematurely disappeared, presumed dead pioneer"s path.
It turns out Muntz is something of a false prophet, hiding out in the landscape trying to capture one last giant rare bird. Carl and his young helpmate Russell eventually defeat Muntz, whose reactionary views are ruining the landscape, which is-basically- an allegory for every Pixar movie thus far (except for Finding Nemo, which is a rare and total exception and will be accordingly ignored). In each, undervalued outsiders (often those left for dead-rusting cars, a decrepit DOS-powered robot) defeat a myopic viewpoint, vindicating their urgent vision for progress. In other words, the heroes are Pixar animators saving us from Disney-fied retreads. Every last Pixar movie has been directed by a Disney refugee (Pixar founder John Lasseter, Toy Story primary conspirator Ash Brannon, Joe Ranft), original Pixar employees (Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, Bob Peterson) or, oddly enough, "Simpsons" veterans (Brad Bird, David Silverman). The dynamics are always the same: animators who grew up with the original Disney studios as their beacon and inspiration either did uneasy time at the declining factory or avoided it entirely.
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