Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Inside Out: An Appreciation.

I will say upfront: this is NOT a film review. Oh my gosh I have tried to write film reviews, and it's proved impossible. Firstly, I could never write about a film I don't love with all my heart or hate with all my soul, y'know? I also would hate the pressure of having to include the whole synopsis and avoid spoilers and credit the full cast AND rate it using a stars system! Please, no. This is just a piece about my mad love for this exciting new film and my personal response to it. Cheers!


Inside Out is the new smash hit Pixar film. Starring the delightful (voices of) Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, and yeah, many more.
The film was directed and co-written by Pete Docter, who was inspired when he witnessed his daughter going through different phases and expressing different emotions (in different intensities) as she grew up. Basically, he saw changes occurring in her personality and started imagining how that came to be. Finding out about the origins of this film was almost as awesome as the film itself...

The main characters are the emotions who pilot the headquarters of a young girl's brain; Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. They have control over how she feels, and for the most part, when they're not arguing over the control panel, they strive to ensure her memories (little lit up balls that roll through chutes in her brain headquarters as they are made) are joyful and worthwhile and contribute significantly to her being. They help her make decisions and react to revelations – for instance when her parents suddenly move the family from Minnesota to San Francisco, which is the event that first shakes things up in the film and starts the action. Oh, and there are more madcap adventures and up-shaking when Joy and Sadness are accidentally shot out of HQ – more exploring of the mind, too!

Some emotions will always be more prominent and bask in the spotlight of our minds. For Riley, Joy is the one who is at the helm most of the time. When we briefly get a (hilarious) glimpse into her parents' minds, we see that her mother is mostly governed by a very sensible Sadness. Also, all her emotion characters are wearing glasses like the human they control, and they all seem to be sitting side by side and each getting their input across. Her father has Anger behind the wheel, and all his emotional characters have taches like their human does, and they all enjoy daydreaming about football. This delighted me – two individuals who are not necessarily primarily joyful, yet they still come across as decent people and the slightly less positive emotions in charge of their brains can still figure out what the best actions are and steer them perfectly along their roads.
This made me wonder who of all the characters would be in charge of my rather unfortunate and problematic brain. I like to think I am a perfect blend of Disgust and Sadness – Disgust pouting at certain foods and planning perfect outfits (given what she has to work with in my wardrobe), Sadness wallowing in her own, well, sadness. Letting herself mope about as much as she wants, not putting on a brave face like Joy might, claiming she's under attack from 'the infinite miseries of the world' (paraphrased) and also confused as to why she feels the need to touch memories and sadden her human at times. I've been told I have some Joy working hard in my head, as well. Thank goodness for that, she does come in handy.


Now, there are especially bright balled-up memories that run through the chute in Riley's (or any human's) mind and instead of collecting with their fellows on the walls, run straight underground and into the Core Memories wheel thing. These special Core Memories then create Personality Islands within a person's mind; Riley's include Goofball Island (she loves acting out and being silly), Friendship Island (kinda obvious, that one) and Hockey Island (her beloved hobby she found living in icy Minnesota). There's also a Family Island, and I like to think most people have one of those. My Family Island would be linked to my Friendship Island, as I find my friends easily can become my family – and that my friends tend to get along almost too well with my family. So this leads me into what I think my Personality Islands would be. This is what I was thinking about as I had a post-film-pee the first time I saw the film...
Cat Island. Self-explanatory. All my Instagram photos of my family's cat Harvey, plenty of plush comfy surfaces for naps. Strays I've seen wandering through residential areas free to roam about and scratch the sofas surrounding the island. Also untouchable dragonflies and burrowing creatures to entertain the cats but never to be caught by them.
Reading Island. This Island will be built out of stacks of books, with portraits of characters in my favourite books decorating the spine walls, and a giant cafetière on top of one stack promising endless coffee to encourage more reading into the small hours, and a steam-powered quoting machine will eject quotes from excellent novels into the air all day every day.
Then there will be Writing Island. A gigantic desk covered with notebooks and old essays and my trusty purple laptop; drawers packed with an endless supply of mechanical pens and biscuits, mood boards hanging in the air above the desk along with mind-maps of fictional characters and plot ideas...
I feel it's only right to attach Reading Island to Writing Island – and they will be connected by a sturdy Blog Bridge that has only got longer and stronger over the course of six years.
Okay, I could go on forever – I actually love the idea that through my life I've encountered fun hobbies and certain people or subjects in school that have stayed with me and become passions that I feel so strongly about, they manifest themselves in islands within my mind.

Anyway... I got tearful. Well I mean obviously, it's a Pixar film after all, but there were so many moments in the film that resonated with me.
The film teaches us that certain emotions are necessary. While some may cause problems in the short term (e.g. Anger being set ablaze and forcing Riley to act out and expel high levels of sass, aggravating her parents; Fear making her act irrationally and be over-cautious, meaning she may miss out on some fun memories that could be made), we do in fact need them to shape our existence. Yes, even Sadness, with her dejected half-empty attitude.

This film is apparently being used already by parents and teachers alike to teach young kids about emotions; how different feelings can be more prominent at different times, how it's okay for another emotion to take the wheel for a while, and even how mental illness works.
This post right here on Tumblr (a lovely friend's Tumblr, which y'all should follow like ASAP) picks up on what I said earlier about different emotions sitting at the helm in different people's minds, and then a reblogger-type person added in that she worked at a mental health clinic and that at that clinic they're using the film Inside Out to help kids identify their feelings! And then a mother reblogged and wrote that she uses the film to explain to her child how she's feeling when her illness strikes. So many good things are happening already thanks to this film! 
Apparently when the film plot was first pitched to Mindy Kaling she broke down in tears, saying "I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it." Damn right, Mindy.

If I were a film reviewer (which I am most definitely not, and may never be, you'll all be delighted to know) I'd give this film five stars and take the time at the end of the review to add in my 'favourite bits' (Sadness being dragged along the ground in the wilderness of the mind by Joy; Anger always reading newspapers with headlines about the latest goings on in Riley's life; Riley's invisible friend Bing Bong shooting up to the skies singing in the Rainbow Rocket)... But I'm not quite there yet. I just wanted to communicate with everyone how much this film means to me and will mean to everyone else! So yes, please see it if you can.
Now, I hope all you readers have Joy spurring you on and keeping you smiling today. But remember, if Anger or Sadness have you stuck in a dark funk, or Fear is discouraging you from something, or Disgust isn't helping you pick a meal from the menu... Well, that's okay too!

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