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Pete Docter dissects UP's opening scene

Director Pete Cocter
Director Pete Cocter
Image copyright Pixar

L.A. Times' The Envelope discussed with director Pete Docter the opening sequence of Pixar's UP -- the silent montage which unveils the main character's life prior to his decision to attach balloons to his home and fly away south.

Here's an excerpt:

On whether or not the sequence was always envisioned as being silent:

"Actually, no. Bob Peterson originally wrote a series of very short scenes, two or three on a page with dialogue, and the characters were completing each other's sentences and other snippets that showed how well matched they were. And as we went into storyboard, Ronnie Del Carmen, who was our head of story, took on that sequence at the beginning and said, "This would be really great if it was silent." We sort of resisted for a while, but it was a classic case of, as I believe Mark Twain said, "I didn't have time for a short letter, so I wrote you a long one." Over time, we were able to know what we absolutely needed to see in the scene, and what we could cut out."

On what was important to Docter in conceiving the montage [spoiler alert]:

"From a "feel" standpoint, it was the sense of a life lived, and not only the highs, but the lows. That's why we put in a couple of dark moments, like their not being able to have children, and of course, her passing away, so the scene didn't feel like a total Pollyanna thing. It actually feels more real, and I think that's how you remember life being like. We also talked early on about most of us grew up in homes where our folks were taking Super-8 films of our family. And when you go back and look at those, they're also silent, but there's something powerful about having no sound. Conversely, we also have audiotapes of our families, which have no picture, and that's equally powerful, because in either case, there's something asked of you as the viewer or listener - you're actively engaged by creating this missing element, so it comes to life in your own head."


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