Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Up... and away.

Up is a bittersweet animated film from Dreamworks that charters the adventures of elderly Karl, a widower, who is determined to oppose continual efforts to evict him from his home. His final act of rebelling involves a colourful myriad of balloons, spurred on by a revived gusto to relocate to Paradise Falls, the long held fantasy location coveted by his late wife. Unbeknowst to Karl at take off, a young Wilderness Scout - Russell - was hidden under the foundations of the house. The film is principally concerned with this dynamic of elder-child, or rather a heart warming tale about a disenchanted elder whose cynicism is gradually dissolved by an 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 rather poignant. Karl is lost without his beloved wife. 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 settle 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 taken charge of his childhood awkwardness with her own determination and dreams. Karl is haunted by a fear that he failed her, that the mundane features of their life together meant that her dreams were never fully realised, and so the noncorporeal accompaniment of his wife - fixed between legacy artefacts and imagining memory - gives added purpose to his flight. 

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 in his late wife's adventures book. The pages dedicated to adventures, which he had believed empty (and therefore representative of her thwarted ambition) are instead full of pictures of their life together. Adventure is relocated amidst the mundane, and so retextualises the role of dreams and experience in their history. Her book ends with the message:


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