Pixar's newest film, "Up," came from a desire to do the exact opposite, director Pete Docter said.
"Basically, I'm not a guy that loves being around people all day. There's times where I just need to get away. This film is born of that feeling," Docter told MTV News. "Sometimes, you just need to get away from everything."
For 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner), the geriatric hero of "Up," that desire is manifested quite literally in an early scene, when he hooks hundreds of helium balloons to his house and soaring off through the skies to find a little peace and quiet among the clouds.
It's a last-ditch effort for an aging man to make good on a promise he once made to his dead wife, who always wanted to see the mountains of South America but never could.
And if you buy that sequence, you'll buy the whole film, Docter said, including scenes when Carl battles terrifying villains and creatures alongside a 9-year-old Boy Scout named Russell (who has stowed away for the ride in order to earn his "Help the Elderly" badge) when he finally touches down.
"Carl used to be a balloon salesman, and so when the outside world is going to take his house, he ties all his surplus balloons, fills them with helium, and floats his entire house up into the sky off to South America — that's the image of the film," Docter said. "It kind of defies description, because it's moving, it's emotional, it's active, but it's weirdly poetic and doesn't make a lot of logical sense. And yet it's really the cornerstone of the film."
To Docter, that means finding a connection to a loved one when that loved one isn't even around and finding a connection to the universe when the universe has said you're past your usefulness.
"We've described it as a 'coming of old age' story," he said. "It's really like an unfinished love story, is kind of the way we're talking about it. This wonderful romance this guy had with his wife and she passes away and it's the unfinished business of dealing with that. The little kid [also has things he] needs to deal with ... and so the two of them end up really needing each other and helping to finish each other's business."
Like all Pixar's films from now on, "Up" will be presented in 3-D. But unlike DreamWorks Animation, which is shooting its upcoming "Monsters vs. Aliens" using the process, "Up" is being made like any other film and being converted, Docter said.
"There's a whole other separate team that's following along that's doing the stereo version. We're going to educate each other on what's the best way to do the 3-D thing," he revealed. "So far, the difference is this. [He puts his hand over his eye.] If you close one eye, you're going to see what you'd see in another film."
"Up" is scheduled for a May 2009 release.
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