Most of the Pixar movies have obsolescence as a main theme. I believe this is probably because the young artists who worked on these films and certainly the older artists who came from the traditional 2D animation world thought hand drawn animation was going to be their life’s work. Most people who got into animation did so because they liked to draw, not program computers. After all, the “magic” of animation, as defined by Disney, was in watching drawings come to life.
The look of computer animation is much more akin to model animation or Claymation which ironically experienced a resurgence of popularity after the rise of computer animation. One would think it would have been model animation, which computer animation so closely resembles, that would have been replaced, not hand drawn animation. So many of the great Pixar movies are about the old giving way to the new.
Among the many examples are
- Toy Story – Old, wooden toy Woody the cowboy, is threatened by the arrival of shiny, new, plastic toy, Buzz Lightyear the spaceman.
- A Bug’s Life – A group of down and out theater troupe bugs get a chance to play heroes and save their livelihoods and their lives.
- Monsters, Inc. – The old way of collecting energy through screams is eventually replaced by collecting laughter.
- Finding Nemo – Dad proves his usefulness and his love by searching for his lost son.
- The Incredibles – A whole “industry” of super heroes are put out of work and fall out of fashion.
- Cars – A small town bypassed by a new highway gets rediscovered for its nostalgic charm.
- Ratatouille – This must have been a reaction to America’s annoyance with France over the Iraq war since it tries to associate French cooking with swarms of rats.
Not a good example of obsolescence and a rare WTF?! moment for Pixar:
- WALL-E – The whole planet is trashed. Robots do the clean up. Obsolescence to the extreme.
- Up – An old man with no reason to stay simply flies away.
Pixar films are extremely well made on all levels and they’ve also been noted for their heart. It is the bitter sweet knowledge that the old must make way for the new that gives these films their sentimentality and that probably stems from the subconscious guilt Pixar must have for so completely replacing the traditional and beloved animated cartoon.