IT’S CALLED “FORESHADOWING”
The purpose of this entry is to draw your attention to the main character of what looks like another megahit in a continuous string of megahits from a group of film-makers who appeared on the scene not too long ago. They call themselves PIXAR. -- the unusual name, of course, referencing the singular tool which they so expertly use to make their films ... “ the pixel”.
NOTE: For the technophobes among us: “ pixel - n. The basic unit of the composition of an image on a television screen, computer monitor, or similar display.”
Since they burst on the scene with “TOY STORY” in 1995 , their 10 – or is it 11 films have all been picture perfect examples of the degree to which computer-animation has evolved – and continues to do so.
I haven’t seen any of the PIXAR films – yet. Not one. Not because of the reviews, which have all been excellent, so far. I just don’t go to the movies much anymore. At the risk of self-aggrandizement, my own little movie which I’ve been starring in for a little more than 75 years now, continues to get more and more interesting - and more physically, if not psychologically daunting - as it continues to unfold; leaving me little time for movie outings or too many other diversions from those activities that require my immediate attention – like eating and sleeping. For example, keeping this Blog thing going has been fun, but ...
The secret of PIXAR’s success is not only due to the amazing artistry they have managed to create with what one might initially perceive as a cold, lifeless electronic dot. Keep in mind please, that from the outset, they were attempting to challenge the cell-by-cell , hand-drawn artistry of the Disney films. And who among us, can’t recall being sucked into the empathetic drama of Disney’s “PINOCCHIO” when we were kids. In fact, two-time Academy Award winning screenwriter William Goldman (“BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID” ” and “ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN ” ) attributes the experience he had with one Disney film when he was a child, as being the single most life-changing event he ever had in a movie theater – watching “BAMBI”!
So what’s the secret?. It's certainly not PIXAR’s inclusion of 3-D in this one which they call – simply – “UP”. No, these guys added that little bit of icing on a cake whose most basic ingredient already guaranteed them a hit. It’s the same basic ingredient that’s behind all great films – and all great books for that matter -- the story.
The story. And when dreaming up this particular story – the word dreaming is used advisedly since this one is apparently a marvelous mixture of fact and fantasy – they created a different kind of super-hero as their main character -- One whose only superpowers are his inherent humanity and compassion.
What a concept!
Here's an excerpt from the LA Times rave review of "UP" which begins with a bow to the film’s visual beauty. But then... :
"As if all this wasn't enough, "Up" also generates genuine emotion and it does so by dealing unapologetically with one of Hollywood's last and most persistent taboos, old people. Instead of a Clint Eastwood-type senior citizen who is fitter than people half his age, "Up" gives us a man who uses a walker and can't handle stairs but still manages to be heroic when it counts. And "Up’s" multi-minute montage of the long married life of Carl and his wife, Ellie, is a small gem that will stay with you for a lifetime."
An old guy as a superhero? ... Well, let me tell ya folks, personally speaking, there have been mornings in my recent memory when it took what felt like super-psycho-physiological capacities I had no idea I possessed, to just get out of bed. And I’ve never been mistaken for Clint Eastwood, either.
So what’s my point? When it comes to making movies, Hollywood folks - even well meaning ones - never lose sight of the bottom line – which, in all cases, is the buck... the dinero... the shekel... the yen... Simply put: The guy behind the biggest desk in the studio will start by asking the film maker “Who’s your audience?” . No one in his right mind is gonna shell out the kind of money it takes to make a film today - especially a computer-animated “UP”... unless there’s an audience for it. So sure there’s a kid in the movie, and scary and adorable animals... but a 78 year old guy whose got a problem with walking up the stairs? ( A particularly well chosen one – from my own personal experience. )
FACT: We are the only nation in the world whose fastest growing segment of its population is NOT under the age of 25. We participants in “THIS 70’s SHOW”” don’t have to look too far behind us for real-life corroboration – with the Baby Boomer generation continuously increasing the so-called “Senior Citizen” population in unprecedented numbers.
Note #1: See my original (first) Blog entry for more information re: the Baby Boomer generation’s unavoidable effect on just about every aspect of our culture. -- which includes that element that has even become the more than occasional lead-off in nightly News reports -- Movie Box Office !
NOTE #2: Regarding those nightly news reports of $60 or $70 million or more scored by some films in a couple of days, or a weekend... a lot of them fade just as fast. Therefore, making an “UP” can’t be justified by projected weekend results... no matter how seemingly incredible. In order for them to be financially viable, profit-making ventures, they have to have what it takes to survive “the long haul”... and that requires months and yes, even years of “draw power”.
Who then, might that demographic ( n.A portion of a population, especially considered as consumers) be - who would be drawn in guaranteed ever-increasing numbers over the years, to a movie that has a 78 year old man as its main character ? I wasn’t present at that first "UP" meeting between the guy behind the biggest desk in the studio and PIXAR's creative folks, so I can’t say for sure that they used this particular word in their pitch as to who that demographic might include. But there’s a good chance that it was implied in what they said. And the manner in which it was probably implied, is known in the writer’s world as “Foreshadowing.”
Foreshadowing - the noun has one meaning:
Meaning #1: the act of providing vague advance indications;
The adjective foreshadowing has one meaning:
Meaning #1: indistinctly prophetic.
So, my Septuagenarian (and Older!) friends... Before you do anything else today, give yourselves a pat or two on the back... for being living participants in - if not the direct cause of - movie-superhero history being made. That is, if you still can reach your own back with your own hand.... I’ve been working on it for the past few hours... and it’s looking like I may just get there before I have to go make dinner ... and after my nap .