I know it's a bit late, but I finally had the chance to see Up tonight. Lately I have been doing my best to play "catch up" with some of 2009's best movies. Since Up is on just about everyone's top ten list, I finally pulled the trigger and watched the film "On Demand."
Up is essentially about life. A young boy (Carl) dreams of adventure and meets a daring young playmate (Ellie) who ends up giving him a lifetime of thrills. Before you can say "Walt Disney" three times fast, a well-aged Carl loses his life-long playmate to an unnamed illness. Death, as it does in real life, surprises and even angers most Up viewers. I had several people warn me about the "adult" themes in the film and my own step-mom yelled, "Terrible!" when Ellie died not 15 minutes into the movie. But hey, that is life.
The rest of the movie is spent following Carl as he seeks to make good on what he believes to be Ellie's last wishes. The couple's childhood dream had been to travel to Paradise Falls in South America. Carl devises a plan to take the house he and Ellie lived in and fly it across the equator. An annoying Junior Wilderness Explorer (the equivalent of a boy scout) named Russell tags along with a crotchety Carl and the adventure begins.
I will go ahead and fast forward a bit on the plot so I can relay some correlations I saw to the gospel. Carl, Russell, and a dog friend have to battle off an embittered antagonist to protect a wild bird they cross paths with. Carl sacrifices his coveted dream to fight against evil and protect the bird, saving the day with the help of his friends. Hooray! Good guys win and bad guys lose (always a good formula for a movie).
Even though Up seems to basically engender adventure, it also speaks to life eternal. What this movie teaches us about life is that it should be lived. Instead of hiding inside of our secure fortresses with curtains closed and doors locked, we should cut loose our burdens and fly! Through out this flick, what's really killing Carl is that he is letting death win. He keeps all of Ellie's old things, preserves his house in anachronistic order, and fights to keep things the way they were. All the while life marches on and he stays behind with death. One of the most telling scenes in this movie is when the camera angle zooms out and Carl is dragging his helium-held house behind him like a ball and chain. The burden is clearly too much to bear.
When Carl realizes that he has the opportunity to live, not for himself or even for Ellie, his burden is transformed into a vehicle of adventure. For most of the movie Carl is entirely self-centered. Life and death revolve around him and he is simply too selfish to engage the world. When all seems to be lost and all of his control is finally futile, he receives second life. Carl steps up at just the right time, dies to himself, and becomes the hero of the film.
Every hero learns something on the path to glory. For Carl, the lesson is about life-to-the-fullest (life eternal). Life is greater than death; life continues on, long after death is but a faint thunderstorm passing beyond the horizon. Adventure, laughter, and love are all a part of life. However, you must live in order to find said experiences. Carl learns there is life beyond death and the viewers of Up get a taste of the gospel. The resurrection of a life once-considered dead is inspiring enough to give me hope on this second day of the new year.