Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia (2016)
“Gulls Gone Wild” At the heart of my study of the films made at Pixar Animation Studios is the figure of the trickster, a mythological figure who fights corrupt power with thievery and cunning. I derive this tradition in American animation from the works of Dr. Seuss, who used an autobiographical lad to express his ...

A Bear Story (2015)

A Bear Story (2015)
“Bear, My Ass” In my yearly struggle to avoid thinking about the idiocy of the Oscars, I invariably fail when I fall in love with one of the brilliant shorts that is doomed to not win due to the pedestrian tastes of the majority of the Academy. This year will be particularly traumatic in the ...

Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa (2015)
“Thigh Line (Liar) Triangular” There’s a remarkable moment early in Anomalisa, Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman’s new animated feature, which resonates with a lecture I give at the start of my course on the history of drama. In “Why Hamlet Doesn’t Go to the Bathroom,” I ponder the deflection of lived human experience entailed by ...

Knick Knack (1989)

Knick Knack (1989)
“Snow Was General All Over the Globe” In stark contrast to the feature films made a decade and some later, the early Pixar shorts are obsessed with inanimate material objects brought to life. With the remarkable exception of the very first short, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. (1984), the next four films—Luxo, Jr. ...

Sanjay’s Super Team (2015)

Sanjay's Super Team (2015)
“Pixar’s Super Themes” The pre-film content before The Good Dinosaur (2015) includes, not only the expected Pixar short, but a greeting by the film’s director, Peter Sohn. While a common occurrence now—filmmakers greet audiences in theaters to thank them for coming to see the movies on a big screen (and presumably for paying to do ...

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur (2015)
“That’ll Be The Day, 65 Million Years Ago” Like most Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur consists of a web of intertextual references. The most surprising of the film’s sources is the film Western. The genre about the 19th century American Southwest is most forcefully engaged in the middle of the new film, when the dinosaur ...

What’s Opera, Doc? (1957)

What's Opera, Doc? (1957)
“It’s Wagner” The massive lengths of the operas of Richard Wagner have resulted in a narrow range of films capable of adapting them, and this in a medium, like opera, devoted to the elegant combination of sound and image. Hans-Jurgen Syberberg’s 1982 film of Parsifal runs well over four hours, limiting its commercial distribution to ...

The Blue Umbrella (2013)

The Blue Umbrella (2013)
“From Van Gogh’s Shoes to Pixar’s Umbrellas” For almost 20 years, Pixar Animation Studios has led the charge in pushing the American animated feature film beyond even the dreams of its great master, Walt Disney. As Pinocchio aspired to become a real boy, Wall-e learns to love like a human being long after people have ...

Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story (1995)
Pixar’s Philosophy of Toys When I present the idea for my new book manuscript, people are generally receptive to the content, an application of the children’s books of Dr. Seuss to the films of Pixar Animation Studios. However, when it comes to my central argument, that the Pixar films do not degrade but further the ...

Home (2015)

Home (2015)
Home is Where the Art Is — In his elegant short book about The Wizard of Oz, post-colonial author and intellectual Salman Rushdie argues that the MGM techincolor extravaganza is in fact an allegory for the post-colonial subject. Dorothy is so desirous of leaving Kansas to travel over the rainbow, but once she’s there, she ...