Principles of existentialism, Pixar takes the chair

Principles of existentialism, Pixar takes the chair
The term purpose comes from the Greek skopéō, to observe carefully. We often find it as an element of compound words, such as teleskopos (“far-seeing”) or proscopos (“explorer”). In common, the constant meaning of something distant, something else, to be identified and reached. From the columns of the Parthenon to the parabolic journeys of SpaceX, it is natural that, even today, when it comes to the meaning of life, the concept of purpose is intrinsically linked to an external objective. But is this necessarily so?

It was back in 1998 when the young Pixar graduate presented to the world one of his first research projects on the subject, entitled A Bug's Life. Like every year, in view of the coming winter, the grasshoppers impose a heavy tribute in food to the colony of ants. Among these is Flik, ​​a pure-hearted young man and a brilliant inventor, who is often isolated from his peers because of his carelessness. After yet another involuntary mess, Flik offers to look for other insects and fight the grasshoppers, in order to atone for his sins. Thus, having assembled an unlikely and varied team of avengers, it will be Flik's perseverance in his dream of being a great inventor that will constitute the first step of the revolt: a fake bird, built with branches and leaves, which will have to be scare away the dreaded grasshoppers.

I'm only 24 hours old, I won't waste them here!

Without giving in to spoilers on the final for the few who have not yet seen the film, we find in the embryonic state a reflection destined to become the cornerstone of future productions: having the confidence to listen to oneself and the courage to do so, pursuing their goals regardless of any social pressure.

Topi chefs and unmarried Queens

Year 2007: the ingredients change, but not the substance. With over 600 million dollars in receipts, Ratatouille conquers the palates of the public and critics. Remy is a little mouse with an extraordinary sense of smell with a bigger dream than him: to become a cook. Linguini, a naive and clumsy scullery boy with an immense heart, helps him in this crazy enterprise. Together they will be required to face the caustic judgment of the fearsome Anton Ego, firmly perched in his belief that not everyone can cook. And it is at this moment that the antagonist takes off the shoes of the solitary and taciturn food and wine critic, to take on those of a much more treacherous and widespread enemy, prejudice. Precisely that prejudice in which, like it or not, we are imbued, which blocks the choices at the start, ours and those of others. The recipe for overcoming it? A lot of guts, a bit of thoughtlessness and a lot of collaboration. Luck to taste

Not everyone can become great artists, but a great artist can hide in anyone

The years go by and Pixar does not stop, promptly succeeding in the difficult task of intercepting the change in civil society and its problems. In 2012 The Brave comes out: the protagonist is Princess Merida, a girl who, like many, is channeled into a life of her not hers, made up of reverences, arranged marriages and court dinners. She loves to ride, the wind in her proverbial red hair and to shoot with the bow. So she, bravely, stubbornly and even making a mistake, she decides to renounce tradition, to break the chains by unleashing her mother's anger. It is a story of healthy rebellion, and for this reason it fully saves the Italian translation of the title. Healthy because difficult, healthy because universal, especially when it comes to family dynamics. Show children that it is not wrong to be different and parents that it is right to accept, even if it is a matter of entrusting the fate of a kingdom to a daughter without a husband.

I will compete for my hand!

Music and death

With Coco (2017), the now established professor Pixar continues to conquer the minds and hearts of the general public. The film takes its cue from the Día de los muertos to tell the story of Miguel, an aspiring musician who grew up in a family where music has been banned for generations. Tired of obeying the ban, the boy finds himself forced to steal a guitar from a grave, suddenly being catapulted into the realm of souls. There he meets his deceased family members, and discovers that he has little time to return to the world of the living and not remain forever trapped in that dimension. A true transitional film, Coco takes up themes from the past and anticipates those we will see in the future.

We rediscover the rebellion, but in a different light. It is no longer the fear of the unknown, of breaking the mold, that blocks us. The perspective is overturned, and now the monster to be defeated becomes the fear of the known, of repeating the same mistakes of the past, of the sins of fathers that affect their children. Indeed, Miguel's family is paradoxically progressive: Miguel, on the other hand, is the conservative. New, perfect reagents of the explosive mixture that will become Soul a few years later are also added. We speak of music, with its saving power, and of death, a reality to be accepted with compassion, because "no one dies on Earth as long as he lives in the heart of those who remain". And here the realization of the protagonist's dream takes on a wider dimension than the "simple" pursuit of the meaning of life: it becomes a tool for resolving family dynamics, because the happiness of the individual is the happiness of the group.

I think we're the only family in Mexico who hate music, and that's okay with them but I'm not like the rest of the family

The grand finale

Think about when you're watching a beautiful fireworks display: your head rumbles, your eyes are full of wonder, but in your heart you know that everyone is waiting for the closing, the grand finale, which will leave everyone speechless. Here we are. We will not dwell on summarizing Soul (2020), which we have already reviewed here, but I will try to concentrate the reflection on the theme we deal with, that of purpose, of the meaning of life. So far we have been told that the reason for our existence lies in realizing one's dream, in listening to one's Socratic demon, regardless of any obstacles that family and society put in the way. And let's be clear, this is a wonderful goal: if you want to dance, dance; if you want to write, write; if you want to cultivate, cultivate. Today, unlike past generations, we actually have this possibility. But what is the counterpart of all this?

On closer inspection, the freedom to fulfill ourselves brings with it an enormous latent burden: the duty towards ourselves to do so. We become the only ones responsible for our happiness, no longer being able to point out external causes that have prevented us from being as we wanted to be. We have no more excuses. What if we fail to achieve our goal? And even worse, if once the goal is reached it should not be as imagined? What if, quite simply, we were wrong? The risk is to be crushed by this colossal responsibility. And it is precisely at this moment that Pixar arrives with Soul, which gives us oxygen, reassures us, embraces us. This quote, in our opinion, has an explosive significance.

“The spark is not a person's purpose. Oh, you mentors and your passions, your goals, the meaning of life .. so basic "

Suddenly a breath of fresh air, and the contemporaneity in which we are immersed is questioned: the purpose is not it is more something external, distant, to be reached by fighting with all our strength. It is something internal, primordial, that we have inside from birth and that we have the only task of not forgetting. It is the will to live.

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