Been a while since I’ve updated this and I think many would have thought that I’ve allowed the blog to wither away, unloved and untended. While the later may be true to an extent, the sad truth of life back home is that one notices the time available to sit and think often gets whittled away to nothing as work, commitments and commuting takes up so many waking hours already. Excuses aside, the lack of time to oneself and the subsequent inability to reflect has taken its toll on my delicate psychological constitution. Well, maybe not so delicate but you get the idea.
With that in mind, I took an evening off a couple of nights ago to boldly step into a cinema, something that I haven’t done in almost half a year. I was determined to catch Pixar’s Up before it ended its run in the cinemas here. Even though one could easily wait for the video release – there’s something to be said for making the special trip to watch the show on the big screen. And I was glad to have made the trouble.
Going Up and getting out. (image from The New Yorker)
The show lived up to all the hype that surrounded it and more. It gave me the slight bump upwards that I felt I needed at this time and gave me much to think about at the same time. The plot’s pretty simple – a 78 year old widower ties thousands of balloons to his house to float it to ‘Paradise Falls’ in South America to fulfil the dreams that he and his wife shared. On the way, he picks up an over-enthusiastic boy Russell, who was part of a Boyscout-like Wilderness Explorer group, a huge bird-of-paradise and meets a bunch of talking dogs and a villain. Formulaic it may seem on the outset but definitely not in its execution.
**Warning – there be spoilers below!**
The one thing that struck me about the movie was the development of the characters and the subtle commentary about what one should do about one’s dreams. We should all have our hopes, dreams and ambitions but as with everything in the world, these dreams should not remain static in the light of things that change around us. Carl Frederikson started life admiring one Charles Muntz, explorer and adventurer extraordinaire – his meeting of his childhood hero later in his life started with wonder and incredulity but that too changed to horror and no small amount of disillusionment as he saw the darker side to Muntz’s adventuring. Carl dealt with it first by running away but that too led to repercussions as his younger friend Russell tried to take Muntz on alone. He too had to deal with the choice of freeing a friendly bird-of-paradise (to go back to her brood of chicks) from the clutches of Muntz or save his house from a fire set by the latter to distract Carl. He chose initially to save the house but Russell’s actions to go of on his own to save the bird
Carl soon realised that his own goals of putting the house atop the Falls as he had planned paled in comparison to the more pressing needs of the present. What followed was the action packed climax of the movie filled with improbable physics (how can a floating house overtake a powered blimp?), funny fights (two septuagenarians locked in hand-to-hand combat with swords and walking sticks) and poignant symbolism as well. Carl realised from looking at a treasured album that he shared with his wife that their dreams of ‘adventure’ though unfulfilled in the normal sense was fulfilled through a full life together. His letting go of the house symbolised his letting go of the baggage that he carried with it since the passing of his beloved wife. The image of the house falling to the ground was an apt one to show how Carl managed to let go of his grief at not being able to get there with Ellie, his wife.
In a roundabout way, the movie reminds us about finding what our hopes and dreams are based on. Quite often, we pursue the outward manifestation of what our innermost hopes and dreams are without thinking about the whys and the hows of this. Just as Carl just wanted to honour the memory and love of his wife by landing the house on Paradise Falls, we too do things to chase things that we desire or think to be important to us. But when faced with hard decisions and a re-examination of what was truly important, even Carl had to realise that saving his new found friends was the greater good when compared to setting the house on a particular place. His actions to save the Russell and the bird honoured Ellie far more than the house landing correctly. It was this letting go and setting himself free that also transformed Carl from an old curmudgeonly gent to a happier person.
Our hopes and dreams can be simple – boiled down to their essence most of us want happiness and a certain amount of fulfilment. I’ve had to make some hard decisions as to the direction I think my life is leading and while the decisions weren’t too hard to make, it was what happened after the decisions were made that made were harder. Up gave me a little nudge to remind myself of the essence of these decisions and how all things will lead to happiness and fulfilment. Only if I allow it to.