Recently, I went to see the newest machination from Disney and Pixar, Inside Out. I’ve been a Pixar fan from the very beginning – Toy Story being my favourite film from the studio, and I’ve watched it 20 times. One of my missions for life has been to watch every single Pixar film that comes out, with the exception of Cars as I haven’t watched either the original or the sequel, or Monsters University.
Inside Out tells the story of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, who one day moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. At the same time of her birth, Joy and Sadness emerge inside her brain. Later on, as Riley grows up, three more emotions – Anger, Fear and Disgust – emerge. Together, they control Riley’s feelings from their headquarters (Riley’s brain) and collect her memories to store in long-term memory. Memories have different colours depending on whether they are happy, sad, angry, fearful, or disgusting, although some memories can be a mix of emotions.
When Riley moves to San Francisco, Joy and Sadness are accidentally sucked out of headquarters when Sadness tries to put ‘core’ memories (memories which record Riley’s key milestones during her life) back into the memory bank. In Joy and Sadness’ absence, Fear, Anger and Disgust take over the runnings of Riley’s brain, causing her to act out of character from the ‘happy little girl’ that she usually is, leading to arguments with her parents and bad experiences at her new school. Joy and Sadness must return to headquarters to return Riley back to her cheery self, recalling some forgotten memories and even meeting Riley’s childhood imaginary friend, Bing-Bong, along the way.
I love personifying abstract concepts, and so Inside Out was a treat for me. The only problem with personifying emotions is that they have to stay in the emotion they’re representing all the time, so they can’t stray out of character too much. This film might explain how the human brain works to children, who as the primary demographic for this film might not have a full grasp of the complexity of mental processes, or even Freudian psychology (which is what the film touches on). It may also benefit those on the autistic spectrum (like me) to try to simplify the workings of the brain as much as possible. Emotions can be difficult to understand for these kinds of people, but Disney and Pixar have made a great job of it.
A good film makes you think of the issues it explores long after the credits have rolled and you’ve left the theatre, and Inside Out is one of those films. Thanks to Inside Out, I’ll now always think that Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust are controlling my brain, collecting my memories and storing my characters away in Imagination Land to bring out whenever I write a new story or draw a new piece of art.