My Love for Pixar!: The Hidden Messages in their Films

Edited by- Aurna Nidamarthy


“Hey, Guys! We are moving to Pune.” Dad proclaimed on the dinner table. As I ate my soup, I could feel the breadcrumbs building up into a lump in my throat. I found it difficult to swallow as I tried to hold back a feeling of unhappiness as he went on… he was moving jobs and we needed to pack in the next week. This was a shock to me and I did not feel as happy as he did. I was only eleven years and was wondering what the hurry was for this move. I had a great life, a marvelous school, and some great friends. I was going to be leaving my interesting break time chats about computer hardware configurations behind which for me, were precious conversations with my best friends Jayesh and Samarth. I often waited impatiently for the next day to begin, just to go to school. Now, life was going to change forever. I became sad with the uncertainty that shrouded my life.

I must thank Pixar to for being there for me at times like this when I needed the inspiration to move through difficult times like this. Pixar is an animation company which reaches out to scientists who have studied about emotions for decades, to be consultants about the emotions they develop in their films. These emotions are real-life experiences, and often, they are challenges faced by children, teenagers, and parents.

Filmmaker Pete Docter of Pixar reached out to a few scientists to talk about an idea for a film, one that would portray how emotions work inside a person’s head and at the same time shape a person’s outer life with other people. He wanted to do this all in the mind of an 11-year-old girl as she navigated through a few difficult days in her life.

Conversations of Mr. Docter with these scientists revealed that he, through his film “Inside Out", wanted to touch on: How do emotions govern the stream of consciousness? How do emotions color our memories of the past? What is the emotional life of an 11-year-old girl like? (Studies find that the experience of positive emotions begins to drop precipitously in frequency and intensity at that age.) “ Inside Out” is a perfect portrayal of five emotions — personified as the characters Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, and Joy — grapple for control of the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley during the tumult of her move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Riley’s personality is principally defined by Joy, and this is fitting with what we know scientifically. Studies find that our identities are defined by specific emotions, which shape how we perceive the world, how we express ourselves and the responses we evoke in others.

But the real star of the film is Sadness, for “Inside Out” is a film about loss and what people gain when guided by feelings of sadness. Riley loses her friends and her home in her move from Minnesota. Even more poignantly, she has entered the preteen years, which entails a loss of childhood.

“Inside Out” offers a new approach to sadness. Its central insight is to embrace sadness, let it unfold, and engage patiently with a preteen’s emotional struggles. Sadness will clarify what has been lost (childhood) and move the family towards what is to be gained- the foundations of new identities, for children and parents alike.

This movie was one of the movies which changed the way I thought about an animated movie. Now, this is not your standard “Disney movies hide double-entendres and sex imagery in every film” hidden message. “So,” you might ask, incredulous, “What could one of the most beloved and respected teams of filmmakers in our generation possibly be hiding from us?” Before you dismiss my claim, consider what is at stake. Hundreds of millions of people have watched the Pixar films. Many of those watchers are children who are still forming their understanding of the world. The way in which an entire generation sees life and reality is being shaped, in part, by Pixar.  Popular culture is often dismissed as empty “popcorn” fare. Animated films find themselves doubly dismissed as “for the kids” and therefore nothing to take too seriously. Pixar has shattered those expectations by producing commercially successful cinematic art about the fishes in our fish tanks and the bugs in our backyards. Pixar films contain a complex, nuanced, philosophical and political essence.

Even the short film before a Pixar Movie sets the tone of what is to come. With Disney buying out Pixar in the year 2006, the flavor of changes in Pixar is seen. Coco released last week. A question that many moviegoers faced in the days following Coco’s theatrical release — and one worth looking into is - Why, exactly, was Coco preceded not by the traditional Pixar short film, but by a 21-minute-long featurette called Olaf’s Frozen Adventure? Wish Disney all the best to engage the Pixar Brand loyalists like me.



Coco is a great movie about the passionate spirit of a young boy who reaches the afterlife while celebrating the Day of the Dead (A Mexican festival), illustrated in the most comical manner, instead of adopting a creepy one. A compromise on the hidden messages of the emotions - a disconnect from the heart of Pixar Films. As a Brand Loyalist of Pixar, I have a message for you “Treasure the past Pixar films. They’re worth millions, and more than their worth of money, they have those hidden emotional messages, which can help you, your family, and your friends.”

Finally, to end this article, I would like to say that we all have days when we just want to keep lying under a blanket moping over our challenges and disappointments. At times like those, why not pull out a Pixar Movie and just feel the emotions. Embracing your sad moments helps you work through feeling energized and optimistic about your future. So don’t just lie in there, wake up, shake up, and move on!


#karan_kaushish #Pixar #InsideOut #EmbraceSadness #loveforPixarmovies

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