It would be safe to say that my film taste is varied. For me it’s all about a great story and developed characters, no matter what genre. If it meets those criteria’s then it’s a good film to me. Before I continue with this blog entry, I don’t want to come across as the cynical film buff who thinks everyone should love animation and that should be their favourite genre. I just want people to let it go and embrace animated films!
Disney is the leading studio that produces first class animated features. Just look at 2013’s Frozen, the billion dollar grossing animation was catapulted into an insane amount of success, taking away two Academy Awards earlier this year (Best Original Song ‘Let it Go‘ and Best Animation) and has become the fifth most successful film of all time. To this day, it’s population has not waned.
However, Frozen is more than just a film with an iconic song, it is a captivating story about a siblings relationship and deep character exploration. When I watch Frozen, I see Elsa’s character who struggles to express themselves and accept who they are. The Let It Go sequence in the film is a pivotal moment for Elsa, as she releases her true self and the isolating setting gives her more power to….let it go.
There’s a moment where the film cuts away to Elsa truly having an inner conflict with herself as she tries to conceal her strength due to it’s negative effects on her loved ones. For me, I’m rooting for her character to truly accept herself and to embrace powers to be used in a positive way.
As stated above, Frozen has become and still is a huge success, with news of a Broadway musical in preparation its success is sure to strengthen. Yet, it could be argued that it was snubbed in the Best Picture category at the 2014 Academy Awards. Only three animations have achieved this feat, with Beauty and the Beast becoming the first animation to be nominated for Best Picture. Up and Toy Story 3 were both achieved this rare feat as well, many expected Frozen to do the same.1 It’s not impossible for an animation to win Best Picture, for the Best Animation category was introduced in 2002 with Shrek taking winning the award. The next step should be for an animation to win Best picture, because animations can deal with deep issues and themes that live action Oscar winning films can tackle.
Up is an example where animations dealt with topics that could seem risky for a family orientated film. Yet it was met with commercial and critical success, winning 2 Oscars (Best Animation and Best Achievement in Music: Michael Giacchino, including a Best Picture nomination) Pixar took a risk and made a film about an elderly gentlemen as the protagonist.
Director Pete Docter explained that the reason why he chose an elderly man as the protagonist was because he believed children could relate to him like their grandparents.2
Up deals with themes such as loss, mortality, ageing, accomplishing dreams, family relationships and learning to enjoy life. It is a general consensus that the first 10 minutes of the film will have people, not matter what age, crying. It was different for an animation but it paid off and 5 years later is still remembered as a classic scene from the film.
More so with Up, but with animated features there are aspects where it is relatable to all ages. For Walt Disney once said, “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.”3 Even Walt Disney had the varied audience as a whole in his mind and not just children, which is a huge misconception.
Lastly, not only should animation be take more seriously due to the themes and ideas they touch upon, but the incredible talent behind them should be recognised more. Pixar are notorious for going above and beyond for the research or their upcoming productions.
For Up In 2004, Docter and eleven other Pixar artists spent three days reaching Monte Roraima by plane, jeep, and helicopter. The team spent three nights whilst they were painting and sketching, and encountering many types of insects and animals. They also flew to Matawi Tepui and climbed to Angel Falls.
For Finding Nemo the artists took scuba diving lessons in the coral reef and for Monsters Inc the animators were really challenged to create a lifelike appearance of Sully’s fur. Two things they had to consider was figuring out how to animate the huge numbers of hairs (2,320,413) on Sulley and another was making sure the hairs cast shadows on other hairs. These are just a few examples of the time and effort that is put into the production of an animated film.
Overall, I think that animation has progressed is its treatment by critics and the public. Whilst Frozen may have been snubbed by the Academy in the Best Picture category, no once can dispute its initial and ongoing success and it is a double Oscar winning animation. Pixar continue to push themselves creatively and have an incredible track record, commercially and critically. DreamWorks animation produced the first Oscar winning animation: Shrek and going way way back to 1937, Walt Disney made history by producing the first full length coloured animated feature (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) which to this day is hugely popular.
Animation may have long to go before being considered worthy alongside live action features, but it is clear that is has gained respect in recent years and that all ages are able to embrace the varied themes that animations generally cover.