This is going to sound a bit sad – not in the sense of tragic – rather in the teenage speak sense of the word. Let’s get it out there: I am a saddo. When Pixar animations celebrated a quarter century of outstanding filmmaking in last year, I hadn’t seen a single one of their films.
I have spent Pixar’s lifespan in a difficult place. Twenty two years spent in a marriage to a man with strong opinions and a dominant nature. In terms of entertainment, what he said went. And I, mea culpa, fell in with that. It was easier to go along with things, than to fight and lose a battle over a little matter of what film we should watch on the TV. I am talking here about a man who could manage a major sulk if I so much as suggested I would watch something else in the other room. I hadn’t been to the cinema above a half dozen times in those years – the last film we saw together was the first Lord of the Rings – and yet I had watched The Long Riders, Deliverance, Southern Comfort, and Master and Commander, so many times that I could walk onto the set of a remake and deliver the lines word for word.
It isn’t an enormous surprise that we are no longer together. His choice, not mine – I’ve already said, everything in the marriage was his choice, haven’t I? The rejection hit me hard; I have spent three years slowly making my way back to being me. I’m at the stage now – the Promised Land that you can’t envisage when a break up is new – of realising that I’m better off without him. I am returning to the real world, and this time, I’m coming as myself.
So back to Pixar. How do they fit in? It’s like this: I’ve got catching up to do; I can’t play in the real world without understanding the cultural references everyone else bats about. I need to know who Woody, Buzz and Dory are, and goddamit, I need to know if anyone ever found Nemo. I have been borrowing DVD’s and enjoying the escapism of some of the things that the rest of the world has taken for granted. Not just Pixar, either, I’ve not been that exclusive. Let’s just say that I now know about King Julian and have a real soft spot for Sid Sloth.
I should have been getting heavy into my exciting new Amazon purchase “The Complete Business Start Up Book” but I discovered that there was a little Pixar gem on the TV. WALL-E was being shown. A five star rating in the paper, 8.5 on iMDB – the book could wait. I had the important business of catching up to get on with.
It’s not exaggerating to say that I watched it with a grin on my face, that in the privacy of my own home I laughed out loud; that I watched awestruck as I saw the destroyed Earth and that I was entranced by the two robots dancing together against a star strewn universe.
As I watched the film, I felt like someone who had been away for a very long time suddenly and unexpectedly finding that what they’d longed to get back to, isn’t a disappointment, but is better than they remembered. I have missed out on popular culture and yet it’s popular because it’s damned good and because it appeals to our very human-ness. We can try and ignore that side of us, think we are above enjoying what the masses enjoy, but we do that at cost to ourselves not to them.
Like the stultified passengers of the Axiom, I’ve been away a long time. It’s taking time for me to get sorted, but watching these movies and seeing why they are so loved and talked about has been great fun and more than that – it’s been a return to Earth.