My wife and I are simply inspired by Disney/Pixar’s ability to tell as story. UP is a beautifully woven adventure story spanning the entirety of life, from childhood through death. The joys and disappointments of life are brought to the screen in amazingly moving ways, often without dialogue (again, Pixar’s amazing ability to tell a story through imagery). So, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to bring tissue.
The beauty of UP lies in the tragedies of disappointment. That is, of course, a great formula for a great story. Without Carl Fredrickson’s losses (no children, loss of his wife, the wealthy developers surrounding his beloved home, his childhood hero turned villain), there would be no tension from which to spring towards overcoming the disappointments. A great lesson in these kinds of stories is that tragedy and disappointment are always opportunities for new seasons, and/or new adventures.
I’m also struck with how the inspiration of UP comes from the surrounding players, Ellie and Russell, who are constantly reminding Carl of the joy that is right before him. Eventually, Carl comes to an appreciation of the life he still has, rather than the life that he has lost, a lesson for us all. Let us also not forget the inter-generational aspect, that the young is inspiring the old. And not just that Russell is a great leader of Carl, but that the younger Carl and Ellie is a great inspiration to himself.
Perhaps in a bit of “title irony,” the message of UP is that you ought never let circumstances bring you down. And the only way to keep yourself from looking down, is to be surrounded by people who are dreaming big and looking up. And it is not until the end of the story that we see in Ellie’s “Adventure Book,” that she’s been looking up, all along.