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Summary / Analysis
Times of India
When Riley (Dias) moves to San Francisco from Minnesota, she is anything but pleased. Her personified emotions - Joy (Poehler), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black), Disgust (Kaling) and Sadness (Smith) - balance out her feelings while living in her mind's 'Headquarters'. They now try to help Riley adjust to her new home while dealing with an emotional imbalance caused by Sadness.
What will strike you immediately about this movie is just how novel the entire concept really is. Just like some of the really good animated movies we've seen in the past, this one quite literally has a cerebral angle (pun intended in this case!), so to speak. It puts the emotions of a child front and centre.
Riley's memories are represented by color-coded orbs that the Emotions organize in an efficient and orderly manner every night when she sleeps.On the first day at her new school, Sadness touches a happy memory orb in Riley's mind by mistake, causing a chain of events that leads to Sadness and Joy being sucked out of HQ (that is connected to places like 'Friendship Island' and 'Goofball Island') into a remote part of Riley's mind. They have to find their way back to HQ before Riley's life turns topsy-turvy.
Anger gets into his element when the other emotions fail. Disgust is fuelled by a bit of ego and self-esteem while Fear takes caution to the extreme, keeping self-preservation in mind.
The various aspects of Riley's mind are depicted in the most creative of ways. The Memory Dump is literally that - a repository of forgotten thoughts and experiences. Dreams are produced on a film set (called the 'Dream Factory') in her mind and there's even a surreal room representing abstract thought, where Joy, Sadness and an imaginary friend of Riley's get a Cubist makeover, followed by a two-dimensional rendering. Really clever stuff.
Dressed up in colourful and wildly imaginative garb - yet making sense every step of the way -
can be enjoyed by a variety of age groups and is both nuanced and sensitive without sacrificing the fun angle.
Some serious thought went into the way emotions are handled in the movie. Pixar filmmakers are known for the research they do—whether it’s becoming an expert in automotive design for “Cars” or trekking to Scotland to inform the breathtaking backdrop in “Brave.” The artists and storytellers behind “Inside Out” wanted to immerse themselves in the mind, studying memories, human emotions and how they evolve during adolescence.
They worked with scientists, neurologists, psychologists and other experts to better understand how the mind works. Dr. Dacher Keltner, co-director of the Greater Good Science Center, is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he directs the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab. “I’ve spent 25 years of my career studying human emotion,” he says. “I’m interested in how we express emotions in our faces, voices and in touch.”
Among other things, Keltner’s expertise helped filmmakers choose the Emotions to feature. Researchers have different ideas of how many emotions we have—there are anywhere from four to 27, depending on who you ask,” says Docter. “Dr. Keltner’s work suggests that there are 21, with emotions like boredom, contempt and embarrassment.
Keltner also helped to define the Mind World in terms of how the Emotions worked together to help Riley cope with the changes in her life. “I just saw the movie and I was blown away,” he says. “I think it’s extremely hard to put into words how the emotions inside your mind affect how you behave in the world and how you see the world. The film achieved that remarkably well. I loved the dynamic tension between what’s happening inside the psyche and what’s going on outside in the world.”
Filmmakers studied adolescence and how a pre-teen might deal with traumatic events. So it was no accident that Joy and Sadness were the two Emotions that went missing. “It all lines up with being an adolescent,” says co-director Ronnie Del Carmen. “Riley changes and no longer feels happy—then she can’t express empathy. She becomes your typical sullen teen.”Says Keltner, who’s a father of two daughters who’ve survived their pre-teen years, “Part of adolescence—part of growing up—is loss. Loss of friends, loss of childhood—it’s necessary to human development. The way that ‘Inside Out’ really grapples with Riley’s feelings of loss and how her family ultimately surrounds her in that experience is really powerful.”
According to Keltner, acceptance is an important takeaway from both the movie and a host of scientific studies of emotions. “I believe that our emotions oscillate,” he says. “There will be a time when your mind is filled with fear—a second or two—before shifting to anger. The movie portrays that struggle over the control panel that I feel to be true scientifically. But one of the key lessons is that you have to embrace all of your emotions. You have to realize that they’re all part of your normal, everyday mind and that’s OK.”
Finding the look of the Emotions wasn’t easy. Says character supervisor Sajan Skaria, “It's probably the hardest thing we've had to figure out in the character department. When we started out, it wasn’t clear where we were going. Pete [Docter] said, ‘Make something my mom has never seen before.’ That’s it. That’s all we had to go on in the beginning. “As we began to land on some really cool and fun designs,” continues Skaria, “we had to figure out how to make them happen. We had to make sure we had the technology in place to render what we created.”
When it came to Joy and the rest of the Emotions, the production team was committed to getting it right, committing resources, technology, imagination and research. “It’s all about the Emotions—they’re running the show,” says Docter. “We can control how we act, but we don’t get to choose how we feel.”
“One of my favorite aspects of animation is how expressive it is,” says Docter. “You can make a character move in ways that are physically impossible, but really show the way you feel. We were able to push movement in this film in ways that we’ve never done in other films.”
Tony Fucile, whose credits include Disney’s “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” served as an animation sketch artist for the film. He was tasked with bringing the best of hand-drawn animation to the CG film. Fucile attended animation dailies and often provided his notes as actual draw-overs that could be captured and provided to the animator. “I worked with the animation team to juice up the poses a little bit,” says Fucile. “I like to push the poses or expressions a little further—rarely will I ever suggest to pull it back.”
Filmmakers actually had two worlds to contend with—the real world, in which Riley is experiencing major life changes, and the world inside her mind, where her Emotions reside. “It was like making two films,” says production designer Ralph Eggleston. “One little change in the real world affects everything in the Mind World, and vice versa.”
The Mind World features bright, saturated color. “We looked at it as a Broadway musical from the ’50s,” says Docter. “There’s a great sense of caricature. The human world is more real: Wood looks like wood, cement looks like cement. And color-wise, it’s desaturated.
Filmmakers actually made separate rules for each world when it came to the camera plan. “It was important to create two distinct styles for the cameras inside the mind and in the real world so that the audience can instantly tell the difference,” says Patrick Lin, director of photography – camera. “In the Mind World, everything is more perfect. Our lenses have less distortion, and the camera movement is reminiscent of the 1940s studio-style camera with track and boom. It’s more mechanical. In the human world, we wanted it to feel a bit more real, so our lenses have more distortion and the cameras are more of a handheld or Steadicam look.”
The team employed camera capture technology for the human world to achieve a more photo-real look. The technology was best showcased in Pixar’s short “The Blue Umbrella.” Says Lin, “We always approach the cinematography with the story in mind.” Docter says the team of designers and artists presented hundreds of different directions via thousands of drawings to develop the locations within Riley’s mind and beyond. “Our choices in the end were based less on anything scientific and more on our guts. We went with what felt right—what felt truthful.”
To make the movie less complicated, the writer settled down on five emotions from 27 different emotions that were originally considered. Major emotions like Surprise, Pride and Trust were chopped off while basic emotions like Joy, Sadness, Diguest, Fear and Anger are featured.
Pete Docter got inspired for this movie from watching his own daughter undergoing a turbulent phase while growing up.
Riley is from Minnesota and she has a special gift. Five of her emotions are personified and are manifested by characters. These are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger and they come to life. These emotions call her mind 'Headquarters' and they, much in the manner of a crew controlling a spaceship, they subtly influence Riley's real-life decision making processes and memories too via a control panel. Riley's memories are located in colored zones in her mind and are then dispatched into her , which are sent to her long-term memory around the time she goes to bed each night. The most important memories, known as "core memories", are housed in a hub in Headquarters and power five "islands" that each reflect a different aspect of Riley's personality. Joy takes charge of the emotions to keep Riley in a happy state, but she is uncertain of Sadness's purpose and keeps her isolated from the other emotions.
When Riley turns eleven years, her family moves to San Francisco, where her dad is posted with a new job. Perhaps disoriented with the shift in location, Sadness by mistake changes Riley's happy thoughts and memories into sad ones and events lead her to suddenly start crying in front of her new class. This forms a powerful impression on her and a new core memory - a sad one - is thus created. This sets off a chain reaction in her mind. Joy's damage-control attempts to erase this classroom crying memory before it reaches the central part of Riley's mind, but her struggle with Sadness over it leads to all the core memories being shunted from their hub and shutting down the 'personality islands' that together form part of Riley's personality. However, before Joy can set things back into their right order, both she, Sadness and the other core member personalities are accidentally sucked into the storage area of Riley's mind via the memory tube that sucks them right out of Headquarters, while they are laboring to set things right.
In the meanwhile, the well-meaning but unfortunately named Anger, Disgust, and Fear attempt to maintain Riley's emotional state in Joy's absence, but they accidentally cause her to distance herself from her family, friends, and hobbies. Consequently, her personality islands crumble and fall one by one into the Memory Dump, an abyss between Headquarters and the rest of Riley's mind where old memories are disposed and eventually forgotten. Anger eventually plants an idea to run away to Minnesota inside the control console, believing they can produce new happy core memories there. Meanwhile, Joy and Sadness run into Bing Bong (Kind), Riley's former imaginary friend who is desperate to reconnect with her. He tells them they can get to Headquarters by riding the Train of Thought. After exploring different areas of Riley's mind, the three eventually catch the train, but it becomes derailed when one of the personality islands falls.
Joy attempts to use a recall tube to return to Headquarters. As Riley prepares to board a bus bound for Minnesota, however, her last personality island falls and breaks the tube, sending Joy into the Memory Dump along with another personification when he tries to rescue her. While despairingly looking through fading memories, Joy discovers a sad memory that becomes happy when Riley's family and friends help cheer her up, causing Joy to realize Sadness's importance in creating empathy. Joy and Bing Bong find the latter's discarded song-powered rocket in the dump to escape, but Bing Bong, who realizes he is weighing Joy down, jumps out and fades away to allow her to reach the ledge above. Joy uses various tools from Riley's imagination to reunite with Sadness and return to Headquarters, where they find that Anger's idea has disabled the control console, rendering Riley apathetic. Joy lets Sadness take control, and Sadness succeeds in extracting the idea, prompting Riley to return home.
When Sadness reinstalls the now sad core memories, Riley breaks down in tears and admits to her parents that she profoundly misses her old life. As her parents comfort and reassure her, Joy and Sadness together create a new, amalgamated core memory that in turn creates a new personality island. After a year, Riley has adapted to her new home, and her emotions all work together to help her lead a happy life, with new personality islands produced by new core memories that are combinations of multiple emotions.
The 3D computer-animated fantasy comedy-drama released by Walt Disney Pictures has been receiving rave reviews. The movie has been loved by an audience of all age groups. Here are some reactions on the film on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Inside Out is a very emotional movie. I cannot be the only person who made that pun. I'm surprised it wasn't the tagline, cuz it's true.
Not sure if this is a joyful children's movie or serious adult movie. The concept and plot is very abstract and thoughtful which children will not realise...and the cartoonisation and clowning reasonably good enough for children to laugh at...if only it was not so melancholy. Adults will enjoy the theme...but would not like to be seen in the theatre seeing a cartoon without children with them . Pity....