Saturday, May 01, 2010

Up and Foreshadowing

I saw Pixar's Up for the first time last night. I think it's a pretty good example of using foreshadowing (and repetition) without destroying tension.

Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers; I'm going to go through some of my observations about it.

First, my expectations worked against me at the beginning with the short black and white film. I've seen a number of Pixar's other films in the past (I think the only one I've missed is Cars) and most or all of them are packaged with a short film that precedes the main feature. So, I watched this one without expecting it to be connected to the main story until it transitioned abruptly into color.

I also noticed how many important things are repeated, setting up a rhythm and an expectation of rhythm.

1. At the end of the short film, the narrator states that the hunter promised to return. The hunter then immediately repeats that promise in his own words. You expect him to be back.

2. Carl appears with a balloon in hand, setting up the element of balloons.

I thought Carl and Ellie's story was a great example of economical storytelling. No shot is wasted and there are very few words.

3. The leaf blower and retirement home brochure shows up. By this point you might have started expecting the things that show up to show up again...

4. The scout kid shows up, repeatedly, and is summarily dismissed to look for a legendary bird.

5. The retirement home shows up again...

6. ... and the balloons.

7. Once Carl was in the air, I asked, "But where's the kid?" He shows up, of course, and his entrance is later repeated by another character.

8. The GPS had to go as soon as the kid said "With this, we'll never be lost!" This doesn't show up again, unlike most of the other things in the movie. The kid never uses his trumpet or half of his other scout stuff, either.

9. The kid finds the legendary bird (or it finds him).

10. When dogs show up, you know for sure the hunter is still around, and stubborn and creepy to boot. (Who gives dogs collars that let them talk, especially such a large pack of dogs? The way they serve him later, it's like they take the place of people in his life. Given their slavish obedience to their master, it's no wonder he's grown (more) deranged.)

11. The squirrel gag is important later.

12. The hunter is back. I think one of the dogs in the crowd even said "You're our guests now, temporarily!"

13. The cone of shame. Funny thing about the dogs' collars: they seemed to have GPS on them. Did the hunter occasionally leave to buy more current technology, or did he have those 50-70 years ago? (Considering GPS didn't exist back then, this may be a little plot hole.) On the other hand, he was established as a genius (or thief) already for inventing the talking collars, so he could have invented his own version of the technology.

14. The hall of trophies. The bird has a good reason to dislike the hunter.

15. Another throwaway remark, as far as I could tell: the hunter says those who go into the labyrinth that is the bird's home never return. I wasn't sure if he was talking about people or dogs but I thought this was more a statement on unknown dangers there than foreshadowing of his own character, who shortly proceeds to death threats. It doesn't seem to fit by the end of the movie unless we take it that way, though.

16. I don't remember whether this is before or after the hunter, but Carl's hope that the scout kid won't notice the bird is gone, and said scout IMMEDIATELY waking up and saying "Where's the bird? Oh no, he's lost," etc.

17. They get the house to Paradise Falls, positioned exactly where it was in Ellie's picture.

18. The leaf blower returns!

19. The biplane as they're entering the airship the second time is shown for maybe 5 seconds, but I expected it to play a role.

I don't have many ideas about the fight scene. Maybe it's just a fight scene? It is pretty funny when Carl spits out his dentures on command.

20. The cone of shame returns.

21. Carl's house is ditched the same way his possessions were. (From the end of the movie, it seems it ended up next to Paradise Falls again; I'm not sure how, with the airship traveling fairly quickly.)

22. Carl gets the blimp. Didn't Ellie make him promise to bring her in one at the beginning?

23. The scout kid ends up on the curb eating ice cream and watching cars with Carl in place of the kid's dad.

When the scout kid initially showed up, I thought the guy who wanted to buy Carl's house had sent him or maybe even was his dad, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of a connection there.


1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

You really paid attention to details.

It's a good movie.