Walt Disney once famously said of his studio’s films, “For every laugh, there should be a tear”…and noone has upheld that mantra more than the creative powerhouse of Pixar, who over the course of seventeen films have proven themselves masters of emotional manipulation. Its pretty much expected now when seeing a new film from Pixar that you’ll register a lump in the throat on at least one occasion, and quite often it’ll linger well after the credits have rolled.
The frequency at which Pixar are able to pull off these touching moments are quite astounding, but the feat is even more impressive when one considers these are animations intended for children, but quite often the adults are the ones reduced to a blubbering mess. The following list are just some of the scenes that have incited such reactions.
Buzz learns the painful truth – Toy Story (1995)
Saying Goodbye to Boo – Monsters Inc. (2001)
Coral’s Death – Finding Nemo (2003)
Waking up Wall-E – Wall-E (2008)
Wall-E has its fair share of lump in the throat moments, but this scene towards the very end of the story, when our hero is badly damaged and has seemingly had his personality wiped, is the emotional crescendo that well and truly opens up the tear ducts. The romance between EVE and Wall-E (two characters who technically never speak a word) is handled better than most romantic comedies, and this scene sure beats the hell out of the obligatory running to the airport scenes we so often see in those films.
Jessie’s Story – Toy Story 2 – (1999)
This is the scene that had both Tim Allen and Tom Hanks crying like babies when they first saw it, and its not hard to see why. From the opening few bars of Sarah McLachlan’s ‘When Somebody Loved Me’, Pixar play our heart strings with profound precision. Much like the opening from Up (more on that later), the story unfolds without dialogue; with only the songs lyrics and perfectly judged character expressions telling us exactly how we should feel. Whenever I watch the scene I get an overpowering sense of guilt, and immediately feel compelled to dig up all my old toys again, just to make them feel loved.
The Death of Bing Bong – Inside Out (2015)
The emotional scar left by the tragic loss of Bing Bong is still quite fresh in audience’s minds, but we’ll never forget his candy floss face and catchy theme song. He lived a life full of laughter that never failed to brighten our day, so when we suddenly lost him in a selfless act of heroism, it was a blow that sent shock waves around the film world. RIP Bing Bong, although Riley will never again remember your kind face, your memory live forever more in our collective subconscious.
Incinerator Scene – Toy Story 3 (2010)
This is the moment in Toy Story 3 when audiences leaned forward in their seats, as our heroes were caught up in their very own ‘Deus Ex Machina’ moment, seemingly about to meet their maker in the quite literal fires of hell. Its pretty dark stuff for a kids film, all skilfully rendered by the animators so we can actually see the moment in the characters eyes when they accept their tragic fate. Its testament to the work that Pixar have painstakingly carried out over the course of three films that we care deeply for our heroes, and that we so desperately want them to survive. Deep down we know that everything will be ok, but every time I watch this scene I think there’s a real possibility that Woody, Buzz and friends will be turned into candle wax, and that is the genius of Pixar.
Married Life – Up
Although Up is considered one of Pixar’s greatest films, its one of the hardest to sit down and rewatch, and a large part of that reason is the much talked about montage that opens the film, which Pixar affectionately named “Married Life”. The scene itself plays out like a film within a film, spanning decades and perfectly encapsulating the ups and downs of married life in a matter of minutes without a single line of dialogue, all perfectly sound tracked by Michael Giacchino’s Oscar winning score. Not only is this three minute piece of animation more impactful than most live action films, it may well be the best thing Pixar have ever done.
Thats all folks! What Pixar scenes had you reaching for the tissues? Let us know in the comments section below.