A Night with Pixar

The other night I spent the evening with a couple of friends, and we watched one after another all the Pixar short films we could find. With a few exceptions, I had previously seen all of films we watched, but this viewing was different. Watching them all back to back was an entirely unique experience, because it revealed first hand the strides and innovations that Pixar has made in computer animation over the past three decades. More impressively, it proved that Pixar has been, and hopefully always will be, a creative storytelling genius, able to find inspiration in any situation.

Short films are an art form unto themselves, as they range widely in duration, and have a limited time frame to get their audience invested in the story and to care about the characters. Although traditionally films are considered shorts if they have a running time of up to forty minutes, Pixar’s shorts are all under ten, and many clock in at less than five minutes. With a release schedule spanning 27 years, each of these short films created fully realized characters and plot situations within a matter of minutes, and the quality of these films never wavered. Adding to the enjoyment, I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so much and so hard at a collection of films. The writers at Pixar have developed a brand of humour that is completely their own, and what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall during their story and script writing meetings. Watching these comic minds at work would be truly fascinating.

If you’re looking to check out some of the Pixar shorts, but don’t have an entire evening to spare, I recommend One Man Band for it’s use of music instead of dialogue to tell a story, Lifted for its ability to create a compelling story out of the most unlikely of premises, Presto for its brilliant slapstick humour, or Tin Toy for the sheer emotional wallop it wields. However, my personal favourite would have to be the very first short to be produced under the Pixar brand, Luxo Jr., the film from which Pixar gets its trademark desk lamp logo. The fact that it only takes a couple of simple movements and minimal sound for Pixar to create two wholly believable characters out of desk lamps is nothing short of miraculous. A quick visit to wikipedia has revealed that we missed a couple of shorts during our Pixar marathon, so I will be hunting those down in the coming days. More exciting was the revelation that a new Pixar short will be premiering at the beginning of The Muppets on November 23rd. As if I needed another reason to see that movie.

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