Saturday, October 10, 2009

Inspirations that may have gone into the making of an inspired movie

[The following is something I wrote up the week after I saw 'Up']

All good cinema sits comfortably on the shoulders of films that have preceded it.

While I was watching "Up" this weekend, and being smitten by its simple audacity, I could not help but wonder about at least one or two films that may have inspired parts of it. It would seem that the makers of the film (the writer/director team of Pete Doctor and Bob Petersen) might have been influenced by the following movies [SPOILER WARNING: If you have not seen 'Up' yet, please do yourself a favor and stop reading]:

"Howl's Moving Castle": The folks at Pixar, including Andrew Stanton have long acknowledged that when it comes to animation, they bow at the feet of Hayao Miyazaki. And the Japanese master's most recent US animation release "Howl's Moving Castle" was about a magnificent structure that floats through the clouds and houses the main characters. Notice any resemblance to 'Up'? Many reviewers have pointed out that 'Up' may be Pixar's homage to Miyazaki, not just in the floating house but also with regard how the interiors of Charles Muntz's giant blimp in 'Up' have been designed.

"Fitzcarraldo": This is a movie that documents the story of a man so obsessed with building an opera house in the Peruvian wilderness, that he takes on the impossible task of moving a 180-ton ship containing musical instruments across the Amazonian forests and mountains to the site of the opera house. Werner Herzog, who directed the movie, ironically became consumed with actually moving the ship across the locations where the film was being shot - with no particular regard to time, money or cost to human life. The resemblance to the middle portion of 'Up' is striking: the South American setting, and the main characters pulling a house through the wilderness with their own physical strength. And with the single-minded determination of bringing it to its planned destination at any cost.

"Gran Torino": It could be just me, but I see more than a passing resemblance of 'Up' to Clint Eastwood's most recent film, a story of a cranky misanthrope who has lost interest in life after being widowed. And who eventually finds a semblance of meaning to his life by becoming an unwitting mentor to a boy from the neighborhood.

There are a few other obvious inspirations including 'ET' but I will let others discover those for themselves

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