Entertainment

Pixar's Secret to Nailing It

A film essay delves into the philosophy that makes Pixar films so relatable every damn time.

by Beckett Mufson
May 11 2016, 1:25pm

Screencaps via

The virtues of powerhouse animation studio Pixar's storytelling have been recognized since day one, by everyone from the late Roger Ebert to Hayao Miyazaki, but a new film essay about the studio does an awesome job at summing up why their films are so satisfying to so many. A relative newcomer to the internet film essay scene, KaptainKristian has been nailing it since his incredible history of Adult Swim video was published about a month ago, following an in-depth look at the golden age of Superman. Now, he succinctly sums up what makes Pixar stories so great in an explosion of sleekly-cut clips, concept images, and graphic visuals.

In Pixar - What Makes a Story Relatable, KaptainKristian first points out that the studio consistently starts with the question, "Why must you tell this story? Why must this story exist, and what greater purpose does this serve?" And proceeds to answer it in every film, even Cars. Every story has a powerful, emotionally relevant message, "Whether it's to teach the virtues of cooperation over pridefulness, coming to terms with the death of a loved one, or pursuing your dreams despite your backround," he narrates. "All themes and ideas [are] central to socioemotional development. These aren't superficial love stories or fairy tales. They focus on family and respect, friendship and compassion: things kids should be learning about in their most impressionable films." More briefly put, Pixar's films, "strive to teach emotional understanding." 

The most powerful thing about Pixar - What Makes a Story Relatable is how KaptainKristian can change the way you think about even your most beloved childhood films. In one section, he points out that the first Toy Story film's real villain isn't the toy-exploding Sid, but Woody—or rather, his insecurities. Sure, on a base level, we recognize that Woody's insecurities regarding the shiny new Buzz Lightyear are what drive the plot forward, but having to reevaluate the kid in the skull t-shirt as a villain is thought-provoking.

See KaptainKristian's full argument in the video below.

See more of KaptainKristian's work on YouTube.

Related:

Forget 'Batman v Superman,' the Original Superman Cartoon Rules

Peek Inside Pixar's New All-Access Exhibition

Pixar Tribute Spans 20 Years of Emotional Ass-Kicking

Supercut Organizes Classic Pixar Films Into The Colors Of The Rainbow

Tagged:
Animation
Creators
storytelling
pixar
film essay
kaptainkristian