Discussing The Wisdom of Pixar with Robert Velarde
- Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We've all got our list of favorite movies, followed perhaps by sub-lists of favorite animated movies, favorite family-friendly movies, and favorite "message" movies. But thanks to the never-failing quality of Pixar studios, increasingly, films are being made that simultaneously straddle all categories and conform to all lists.
Which Pixar film is your favorite? Monsters, Inc. for reminding us how weak fear is compared to laughter? Finding Nemo because of the tireless search for the lost son? Or maybe you prefer the nostalgia for the journey over life's roads that is Cars, or the drive to use your God-given talents that shines through in Ratatouille.
Regardless, chances are you have chosen your Top 5 Pixar films, whether you realize it or not, because of the specific virtues any given movie explores, virtues that author Robert Velarde (The Heart of Narnia; Inside the Screwtape Letters) examines in greater depth in his latest book, the wisdom of pixar: an animated look at virtue. Velarde was recently "Incredibles" enough to hook "Up" with Crosswalk.com to talk about his oh-so-fun book (sorry, couldn't resist)…
Crosswalk.com: Robert, since your book released at the same time as Toy Story 3, what did you think of it, and what lessons and virtues did you find in this most recent film?
Robert Velarde: I enjoyed Toy Story 3. You know, it is the third film in that series, the first one having come out 15 years ago. I think they did a great job continuing the story. I found some really good messages in there about courage, family, and loyalty—just sticking together as a family unit was a very powerful message in there.
CW: One of the things that I thought was so interesting about Toy Story 3 was it seemed like there were a couple of scenes that were just so heavy, almost more relatable to grown-ups. One that struck me hardest was when Lotso climbs up the ladder of the trash compactor and you think he is going to push the stop button and save the toys, but his past gets the best of him (he is still so angry), and he pulls out the line, "Where is your Kid now?" It punched me me like an atheistic, "Where is your God now?" type of statement. Who gets more out of these movies, Robert, the children or the adults?
RV: I think it is an equal share. I think the kids can really get a lot of good messages about family and friendship and things like that, but I think adults, too, can get a lot out of a Pixar movie. The creators and the folks behind the Pixar movies really know how to tell a good story that can appeal to a broad range of people, so they do not end up talking down to kids or making it too juvenile for adults. They have a good balance there.
CW: It is incredible the way they manage to do that. In the book, you take the ten films that had already come out [prior to Toy Story 3] to talk about virtues like justice, courage, and love. Can you take us through a couple of examples, and how they related to the films, and how you decided which virtue should go with which film in the book?
RV: Sure. Well, I think the main thing for me was watching the movies over and over and over again, which my kids loved because my kids got to watch them too. I ended up literally making a list of maybe 30 or 40 different virtues that I saw in some of these films. Then I narrowed that list down to say, "Okay, let's pick ten of them."
So for A Bug's Life, for instance, I [focus on] justice because you have, of course, these bully biker gang-type grasshoppers picking on these ants, and it really appeals to our sense of justice, having to make what is wrong, right.
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