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Pixar Heroines: Is Ellie Fredricksen The Most Important Character In Up?

Pixar Heroines, UP

Posted by Joanna • May 29, 2019

Today’s Pixar Heroines installment is a special 10th anniversary tribute to Ellie Fredricksen! Both Simoa and Joanna have plenty to say about this adventure-loving superstar.

Ellie is full of spirit, confidence, and love

Simoa

I loved Ellie almost immediately. It was when she took off her pilot helmet and all that unruly hair leapt out before getting flattened again. Then she smiled that goofy, toothy smile of hers. I just knew from those few seconds that I would love her. And in that short bit of time, we know that she’s a rambunctious extrovert, but she’s not totally wild. See the way she gently takes Carl’s hand and leads him to his balloon – foreshadowing!

Daniel Lopez Munoz (The Art of Up)

Ellie’s introduction is one of the best I’ve ever seen. From the way she pilots the house when Carl first sees her, to the way she ripped a page right out of a library book. It’s rule breaking that’s so specific to little kids; daring and innocent at the same time. Ellie’s daring, her unclouded belief that she can one day follow in her hero’s footsteps, are qualities I wish I had. She, like little kids all over, believe in the impossible and don’t fool themselves into being realistic. When Ellie demands that Carl take them both to Paradise Falls, I believe that she’ll get them there. More foreshadowing! And even as Ellie grows up, she never loses that spirit; not when life doesn’t go the way she planned and not even when tragedy strikes.

Albert Lozano (The Art of Up)

Our time with Ellie is so brief, but the magic of Up’s “Married Life” montage is that we believe she spent an entire lifetime with Carl. Not only that, but Ellie’s limited screen appearance still made audiences fall in love with her. I fell too, if you couldn’t already tell! She is my favorite Pixar character, even if she only has a few lines and dies so early on. But it’s her spirit that permeates Up. The film does get criticized for its wacky and absurd second act, which a lot of people think doesn’t live up to its first ten minutes. Talking dogs, a chocolate loving bird, flying a balloon powered house to Paradise Falls, who would’ve loved that? Young Ellie, who pretended the dilapidated house she was playing in was a plane, and who used a steering wheel that would later inspire Carl’s own steering apparatus when he got his house off the ground (foreshadowing). And also Older Ellie, the woman who became a zookeeper! And her spirit resides in Russell too. There are little moments that clue us and Carl into his wife’s presence. What would Up be without her? She’s always there even when we can’t see her anymore.

“While Ellie is alive, our color palette is heavily saturated. She brings color into Carl’s life. When she’s gone, the palette is desaturated to shades of gray. When Carl blows up the balloons to begin his journey, we bring back the memory of Ellie through those saturated, beautiful colors. Generally, we show Carl in the dark while Russell is in the light. Russell brings all of Ellie’s color back into Carl’s world.” – Ricky Nierva, production designer (The Art of Up).

Don’t we all want to be like Ellie? And if we can’t be her, have her in our lives? I honestly do get bummed out that I can’t actually hug Ellie because she feels that real to me. And it’s easy to imagine more of her story past Up’s first ten minutes.

I love that Ellie sees life as one big adventure with the people we love and care about. I love that she makes me believe that adventure is not only out there, but all around, right here.

Ernest Nemesio (The Art of Up)

I would be remiss to not include more Ellie artwork! Two of my favorites are by Ronnie del Carmen. Imagine her as an aviator?! Swoon. Becoming a pilot is an ambition of mine, so let’s just say that Aviator/Pilot Ellie means a lot to me.

Ronnie Del Carmen

 

Ellie is an adventurer, and an adventure!

Joanna

The audience may only see Ellie for the first 10 minutes of Up, but she still manages to be unforgettable. She is one of, if not the, most important character in the film. And while the audience only physically sees her for that painfully brief time, her presence is unmistakeable throughout the entire movie.

Ellie drives the story of Up, with Carl always looking to her for reassurance and comfort, both during their marriage, and after her death. Pixar even devoted the colour magenta to her, so that each time you see it fade in or out on the screen you’re reminded of her significance. The magenta slowly disappears at Ellie’s funeral, and we’re quickly met with a very faded, desaturated sequence of Carl’s life as a widower. And when Carl bravely sets forth on his journey to Paradise Falls, the balloons are lit up with magenta hues that cast magenta shadows and lights over the buildings and fields below. Carl’s journey is powered by Ellie’s spirit: the spirit of adventure!

The fact that Ellie is so memorable and inspiring is not only a testament to the strength of Pixar’s storytelling, but also to the strength of her character. Ellie is fearless, creative, loving, and confident. She’s an adventurer, and she’s an adventure. She is everything a young wilderness explorer should aspire to be.

“For performing above and beyond the call of duty, I would like to award you the highest honor I can bestow: The Ellie Badge.”

Fun Facts

  • Pete Docter’s daughter, Elie Docter, voiced young Ellie and even drew the childhood art in Ellie’s adventure book!
  • According to Elie, Ellie nursed wounded pigeons after they were hit by boys’ slingshots, which is “really something only a kid would do.” (Take note that Carl and Russell would never hit birds with slingshots!)
  • Ellie, like Charles Muntz, was shaped like an exclamation point when she was young because she wanted to be an adventurer. “…sort of light on her feet and lifting up into the air.” – Albert Lozano, designer
  • The Ellie Badge is one of the Easter eggs in Toy Story 4!

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10 Years Later Up’s Opening Sequence Still Packs An Emotional Punch

Anniversary, UP

Posted by Nia • May 20, 2019

It feels like it was only yesterday that Up premiered in cinemas and we fell in love with some of Pixar’s most iconic characters: Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, Russell, Dug, and of course, Kevin. It’s unfathomable to think it’s been 10 years since we all laughed, cried, and went on one of the biggest adventures of our lives as we followed Carl on his epic quest to reach Paradise Falls.

There are obviously a lot of amazing things about Up that still hold the test of time: the breathtaking reveal of Carl’s balloon house as it soars out of the city for the first time; the sweet depiction of Dug and his adoration for his humans; even the delicious villainy of Charles F. Muntz. But the greatest part about Up, and one of the finest moments in animation history, is the opening sequence, otherwise known as Married Life.

What makes the sequence so special is the fact that Up’s director, Pete Docter, decided to tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship without dialogue. I’ve always been a firm believer that you don’t need dialogue to tell a story – so much can be achieved with a subtle glance or the character’s body language, how they carry themselves across the screen or interact with the world around them, that 10+ pages of dialogue can never achieve.

The Married Life opening depicts the entirety of the couple’s relationship without words but through images of their life together, little snippets of the good and the bad parts of any relationship – starting from Carl and Ellie’s wedding and ending with Ellie’s funeral. Their relationship could’ve spanned at least half of the film, there’s even a feature length film in there somewhere about the duo, but it was told brilliantly in less than five minutes. We didn’t need dialogue to tell us that Carl and Ellie were in love and what they went through in the course of their time together. Instead, with the clever way the talented folks at Pixar animated the sequence, we saw their love for each other in the brief glimpses of their relationship as they built their dream home and worked at the zoo. We saw their hopes about the future and their goals of traveling to South America and starting a family. We saw how they were able to overcome adult problems like home-owning and having a flat tire, and we even saw their struggles with infertility and how that affected them both in different ways.

Another reason why Married Life works so well is because of Michael Giacchino’s heartbreaking score; the sequence simply wouldn’t be the same without it. If you closed your eyes while listening to Giacchino’s Married Life theme, you could almost picture the story, scene by scene, in your head. The melodies that follow Carl and Ellie on their journey together are simple and just as unique as the old-fashioned couple; the score perfectly follows the ups and downs of their relationship, giving us some lighthearted and catchy tunes while also pulling at our heartstrings at the more somber moments. Michael Giacchino even went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Up at the 82nd Academy Awards.

I have no doubt in another 10, 20, or even 30 years, the Married Life sequence in Up will still break our hearts and fill us with as much joy and devastation as it did the very first time we watched it. The opening sequence is a testament to the brilliance of animation and that with this art form, there are SO many ways to tell a story; not everything has to involve dialogue or spelling it out for the audience.

So, happy 10 Year Anniversary, Up! And congratulations again to all the amazing and incredibly talented people who worked on the project many moons ago. Adventure is out there! 

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The Cast Of Up 10 Years On – Where Are They Now?

Anniversary, UP

Posted by Joanna • May 15, 2019

Unbelievably, Up turns 10 years old at the end of the month. There’s nothing like one of your favourite movies reaching a monumental birthday to make you despair over the relentless passage of time. 10 years is a long time. Pete Docter, the director of Up, has since become the chief creative officer at Pixar, which just goes to show you how much a person can grow over the course of a decade.

This got us thinking: where would Carl, Russell, and the crew be 10 years after the events of Up? Obviously there’s not just one answer to this, so let’s explore the different possibilities for each character.

Carl

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: NO. CARL IS NOT DEAD. That option is not going to be considered. Carl Fredricksen is currently still enjoying the adventure of his life and you can’t convince me otherwise. During the main events of Up, Carl is 78, so now he’ll be at the grand age of 88. Charles Muntz was 92 and still a fully-functioning owner of a blimp full of talking dogs. Who knows what Carl could still be capable of?

We can see from the stills during the end credits that Carl fully embraces his new role as Dug’s master. I think because he understands so deeply the loneliness that elderly people can experience, Carl would find a lot of happiness in training up Dug’s pups to become loving companions to those in need.

Carl and Russell are no doubt looking forward to the next Star Wars movie too, and hopefully they’re enjoying all the spin-offs.

Russell

Russell was a sweet 9 year old Wilderness Explorer, so now he’ll be 19! I can imagine Russell still getting a lot of enjoyment from learning about the huge diversity of animals on the planet (“There are no tigers in South America. Zoology.”), and he’ll definitely want to explore the world one day. Finally earning his ‘Assisting the Elderly’ badge (and, of course, the Ellie badge), might have put things into perspective for him a little though. Maybe Russell is making the most of his time with Carl, maybe he’s volunteering in a care home, or maybe he’s become a Wilderness Explorer Leader, training up a whole new generation of helpful wildlife enthusiasts.

Whatever he’s up to now, he’ll be doing it out of kindness and curiosity because, wow, he’s a good kid.

Dug

Let’s assume Dug was a young dog during the events of Up, because no one likes to think about dogs not being alive any more. A decade later, Dug is probably enjoying a slower pace of life alongside his master, Carl (and possibly alongside some of his puppies). Hopefully that talking collar is still functioning! Dug had a hard start in life, so what he really deserves is a great long life just doing what normal dogs do: lounging in the garden, chasing squirrels, begging for food, and insisting on sleeping on the double bed at night.

Kevin

Kevin, as ever, is a mystery. Who knows how long the mythical ‘Snipe’ lives? Bird can live for a pretty long time (ostriches can live up to 45 years), so let’s all agree that Kevin is alive and well and raising her 15th brood of chicks. The tropical ‘Snipe’ population in Paradise Falls will have had a boost through conservation efforts sparked by Carl and Russell’s awareness campaigns. Maybe Kevin still thinks about her human friends sometimes, or maybe she just misses chocolate.

 

Up did an amazing job of showing that all of life’s ventures are adventures in themselves. Yes, perhaps on paper – or on screen – Carl and Russell’s trip to Paradise Falls was the most exciting event of their lives, but I’m sure that experience has taught them that every memory is of value. It’s 10 years later, and their adventure has only continued.

Ellie would be proud! And I can imagine their house still sitting right beside Paradise Falls, slowly returning to nature with plants growing over the windows and birds nesting in the chimney. I don’t think Ellie would want it any other way.

 

This is just one post out of a series to celebrate Up‘s 1oth anniversary. We’d love to hear your memories and thoughts – leave us a comment, or tweet us and use #Up10th! Where do you see the cast of Up now?

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New Disney/Pixar Gallery Nucleus Exhibition Opens in Los Angeles

30 Years of Pixar, A Bug's Life, Art, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Inside Out, John Lasseter, Monsters University, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, WALL-E

Posted by Nia • December 10, 2016

Have you ever wanted to see some of your favorite artwork from Pixar films in real life? Fear no more, as a new exhibition has just opened up at Gallery Nucleus in LA today. For the first time ever, the gallery will be showcasing brand new images from each of Pixar’s feature films. What makes it even more unique is that John Lasseter himself picked each design for the show. There will also be hand-signed limited edition prints for sale by each artist who worked on the pieces.

Thanks to Oh My Disney for providing the artwork that will be featured at the showcase.

By Bob Pauley

By Bob Pauley

 

By Tia Kratter

By Tia Kratter

 

By Randy Barret

By Randy Barret

 

By Pete Docter

By Pete Docter

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Teddy Newton

By Teddy Newton

 

By Bill Cone

By Bill Cone

 

By Dominique Louis

By Dominique Louis

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Lou Romano

By Lou Romano

 

By Robert Kondo

By Robert Kondo

 

By Harley Jessup

By Harley Jessup

 

By Steve Pilch

By Steve Pilch

 

By Rickey Nierva

By Rickey Nierva

 

By Ralph Eggleston

By Ralph Eggleston

 

By Sharon Calahan

By Sharon Calahan

 

By Daniel L Munoz

By Daniel L Munoz

 

Be sure to check out Galley Nucleus and celebrate the art of Pixar if you’re in town – it runs from today, December 10th to January 8th, 2017.

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