This last decade has seen something of a renaissance in animation and Pixar may just have been the saviour of animated cinema. With almost everything in cinema today, technology dictates what we see on our screen. If it wasn’t for Pixar, Disney would still be floundering (pardon the Finding Nemo pun) in dated images. Pixar brought about the rejuvenation of animation through advanced technology and in turn brought families flocking back into cinemas. Since The Lion King in 1994, Disney has not made an animated blockbuster. Without Pixar, animated films could have been a thing of the past. Through an almost-forced merger, Disney have passed on the production baton to Pixar.
Their first feature-film, Toy Story, was the product of nine years of creative and technical endeavour. The most important thing for Pixar was to make the film accessible to all the family. The introduction of retro toys, such as Mr. Potato Head and Woody, the old, battered cowboy, brought in some nostalgia for parents. Other characters such as the three-eyed aliens and Buzz Lightyear appealed to younger kids. Pixar certainly succeeded in this universal appeal; I still loved it just as much when it was on TV over Christmas!
The next three major breakthroughs for Pixar came with A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo. Pixar wanted to use narratives to test new technology that they have produced. A Bug’s Life was a test of detail; intricate details on tiny insects are shown perfectly on the big screen. Monsters Inc. experimented with producing a bed of hair that would move with an object. The character Sulley was Pixar’s proudest achievement on the big screen until they produced Finding Nemo. A CGI film showing animals underwater was something that would have been impossible to create a few years before its release. It was arguably Pixar’s biggest achievement both critically and technically.
Cinema would not be the same without Pixar. Animation might not have been as big as it is now without it. With Disney’s financial backing, I am sure that we will keep on seeing innovative and exciting new releases from Pixar, such as Up and Toy Story 3. No company comes close to it in terms of animation, Pixar’s technological development is astounding and its narratives are spellbinding.
By Scott Perkins