Isolation and Loneliness in Pixar’s Up

Isolation and Loneliness

One should not doubt that Up, an animated movie released in 2009, is one of the best cartoons produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The story draws attention of the audience on the problem of loneliness and isolation in both childhood and adulthood. As a result, the tale is designed to be a movie for both young and old individuals. The relationship between the protagonists, Carl and Russell, serve as an example of how to address these issues and, ultimately, fulfill own dreams. The analysis of the study shows that the characters’ transforming journey helps both Carl and Russell turn their lonely lifestyles into close relations.

The tale is untraditional as it narrates a story about a man, who is seventy-eight years old, and an Asian little boy. The characters play a significant role in the movie as they help to convey the message to the audience and serve as examples of how to cope with the issues of loneliness and isolation. Boldy and Grenade state that although social isolation and loneliness may seem to be separate concepts, they are closely linked with each other (583). According to the article entitled “Loneliness and Social Isolation among Older People,” loneliness refers to the individual’s subjective analysis of their social problems while “social isolation is an objective appraisal of the extent of an individual’s network” (Boldy and Grenade 583). The authors argue that older people are more likely to face social isolation and loneliness because of the loss of family and friends, mobility, as well as income (Boldy and Grenade 583). However, not only elderly individuals but also small children tend to experience these conditions because of the lack of parents’ attention and love. The analysis of the characters in Up shows that both Carl and Russell suffer from isolation and loneliness.

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The movie portrays Carl Fredricksen as a lonely individual. He is a retired balloon salesman and an avaricious widower at late middle age (French par. 4). After Ellie’s death, the man becomes cranky and lonely. The loss of a wife has made him shutter himself from the surrounding world (McCollum par. 3). Carl has the typical stubborn character of people of his age. The protagonist had promised his wife that they would have a journey and move to Paradise Falls like their childhood hero. However, Ellie died before they could reach their dream. As a result, the man isolates himself from society in the house they built together. The complete isolation from the world has turned him not just into a stereotypical grumpy old person but also an individual “whose rich life has been robbed of its meaning by death” (McCollum par. 5). Such a situation makes Carl avoid human interaction and lose contact with friends. The protagonist’s young companion Russell comes from a split family. His parents are so busy with own lives that they pay no attention to their child. As a result, Russell feels neglected by his parents. Instead of having boring childhood, the boy wishes to spend time with his father. Unfortunately, the hero’s father has no time for his own son. In contrast, Russell does not isolate himself from the world. Instead of aloofness, the boy tries to find new friends. Unconsciously, the protagonist looks for a father figure even in an elderly person. Therefore, a journey helps both characters cope with their problem.

As the movie progresses, the characters go through a transforming journey together. This travel helps both Carl and Russell change their lonely lifestyles and form close relationships. Their adventure to Paradise Falls ruins the burden of isolation and offers the protagonists to experience new emotions, happiness, and freedom. In the cartoon, each hero has offered something to the other one to make their friendship a strong bond. The man teaches the child who has never been out of the city about survival and wilderness in a new and unknown place. Russell also offers Carl new experience. As the man does not have any children, the boy shows him how to keep patience. Moreover, the man teaches his little friend that all people should keep promises. The embodiment of his wife’s adventurous spirit is what the man gives to Carl. What Russell gets from Carl is a father who always has time for his own son, visits the merit badge ceremony, sits with him on the curb and counts red and blue vehicles. As a result, each hero shares own experience with another one with the aim of making their friendship a strong one.

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Their relationships also help both characters transform. The adventure to Paradise Falls makes Russell turn from a little child who is afraid of loneliness into a mature boy who can easily cope with new experiences. The viewers of the cartoon may also see the growth of Carl’s identity. The man changes his miserable life and learns how to be patient to other people and even animals. Instead of isolating himself from the society, Carl offers help to his new friend and saves Kevin, a bird, from being killed by own childhood hero, Muntz. Carl realizes that his house is only a possession while his and Ellie’s hero is an evil person. Despite the fact that he cannot have a child, he gains experience through the communication with Russell. The audience may notice the protagonist’s final transformation in the episode where Carl comes to the ceremony in which Russell was awarded for assisting the elderly. All children were supposed to come with their fathers. Only Russell is alone. However, when the ceremony assistant gives him a medal, Carl comes to help him put it on his suit. In this scene, the audience sees how the hero improves his self-image and, ultimately, matures. The episode is the last transformation element in Carl’s life as he turns from a stubborn and cranky man into a patient and friendly individual.

The cartoon focuses on the theme of aging. It shows that although an elderly person might feel lonely, there is no reason to isolate himself or herself from the surrounding world and refuse assistance offered by other people. Getting old is a part of the human nature. As a result, Up shows that people should not isolate themselves like Carl does at the beginning of the movie. Instead of doing it, they should try to find new relationships that might help them live a happy life. Up also explores other aspects including love and loss as well as compassion. The movie also uses such symbols as the house, Kevin, and Dug. The house serves as the embodiment of Carl’s dream. Kevin represents a thing that inspires the man to go beyond own desires. Dug is a metaphor for transition as he symbolizes the transformation of a person. Overall, symbols help to convey the theme of the movie to the audience.

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Taking into consideration the analysis of the movie, one may conclude that the heroes’ transforming journey helps both characters change their lonely lifestyles and form close friendship. Despite the fact that at first Carl had no intention to accept the child, their adventure to Paradise Falls helps him understand his mistake. Although Carl has lost Ellie, he learns how to take care of the boy, Dug, as well as Kevin. Russell has lost his father; however, he gains Carl who comes to the ceremony and is ready to eat an ice cream with him. Thus, Up teaches the audience that it is never late to change and become a generous and kind person.

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