Up is a bittersweet animated film from Dreamworks that charters the adventures of elderly Karl, a widower, who revolts against continual efforts to evict him from his home. Using a colourful myriad of balloons, his gusto for adventure is revivied as his house takes off into the sky, in search of Paradise Falls, the long intended location coveted by his late wife's fantasies. Unbeknowst to Karl at take off, a young Wilderness Scout, Russell, has hidden under the foundations of the house (in search of the snipe that would secure his 'assisting the elderly' badge), and so is also along for the ride. The film is principally concerned with his dynamic of elder-child, or rather the disenchanted elder whose cynicism is gradually dissolved by the infatiguable child whose morality and optimism pushes them both into a quest to reunite a brightly coloured bird with her chicks.
It is funny and charming, but also extremely poignant. Karl is lost without his beloved wife, reflecting the sentiments - no doubt - of so many people in his situation. His attachment to his home concerns his reluctance to let go of that physical anchor with his wife's memory, to the place in which they met, married, and which now houses him in the world of the living with the things that tenderise her aftermath. Initially, his desire to complete his mission to resettle his abode above a grand waterfall in South America overrides all other imperatives. Indeed, his actions occur and are talked about beneath the benevolent image of his late wife who had long harboured exciting plans of adventure and discovery. There is a sense in which Karl is haunted by a feeling of failure, that these dreams were never fully realised, and the noncorporeal accompaniment of his wife - fixed between memory artefacts and imagining memory - gives added purpose to his flight. However, in the end, when the choice between his house and his comrades is at its most paramount, he lets go of the former and so enters a new phase of reconnecting with the living, and letting go of the dead. Knowing Dreamworks and their ilk, it seems unlikely that any other outcome would be plausible. As chance would have it, just before this split, he finds a new section to his late wife's adventures book. Her sections dedicated to adventures, which he had believed empty (and therefore representative of her thwarted ambition) full of pictures of their life together, ending with the message:
Walking around the city I have lived in for just over ten years now, I sought a connection between myself and its physical properties. In those moments, I couldn't really feel one, and found myself oddly disjointed. It seemed as though the city was disinterested in my place among it. My city is a popular tourist destination, and their daily throng permeates its streets with a depth and overwhelmingness that may be diluted in bigger places. For a moment, I found myself considering my city as a priceless crown, guarded in a museum. People come and look and ooh and aah, but the residents are likewise separated by panes of glass. The latter are custodians, but never really owners, because the crown is there to visited, to be admired from afar. They must constantly share it with the masses who continually drift in and out, and relate to it as tourists relate to sites during their trips. Perhaps, however, these sentiments arise from the feeling that this is not really my home. I wasn't born here, I didn't grow up here. The surrounding county holds the bodies of several of my maternal line, a discovery made only a couple of years ago. But in those moments I thought... that they had had their time, and that sometimes it takes more than knowing where feet once tred to see those faces in the dust and grass.
A little while later, I met a friend and broke my reverie. Another day, I'll no doubt see the city in a different way.