The Power of Pixar – The Ry Perspective

The Power of Pixar


Films are filled with a vast array of genres.  One of the biggest genres is animation.  Through this medium, film makers delve into their own imaginations to create worlds where audiences can feel raw emotions.  Most film studios have had some success, but one that has had a strong foothold for years is Pixar.  This studio has produced many films that have gone above and beyond common perception of what an animated film should be.  With a huge catalog dating back to 1995, they have found a way to be a true icon in animation.  When it comes to Pixar, they push the limits of what it means to tell a story.

So, what is it about this studio that makes them stand far beyond the rest.  There are many that have created strong entertaining animations like Shrek or How to Train your Dragon, but Pixar continues to push stronger films.  That strength begins with their first featured length film, Toy Story.  This is a film that was not only the first computer animated one, but it set the standard for what to expect from Pixar.  Toy Story opened the eyes of millions to the possibilities of what computer-generated worlds could be.  Those that saw these future endeavors, like Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly, said, “It has the purity, the ecstatic freedom of imagination, that’s the hallmark of the greatest children’s films” (EW).  Having the ability to capture innate feelings through a CGI medium marks something truly enrapturing.  As Roger Ebert said in his review, “Watching the film, I felt I was in at the dawn of a new era of movie animation” (  With a strong vision and stellar reception at the start, it propelled them on a path of 20 films with strong recognition around the world.  With so many great works of art, it all traces back to Toy Story.  I believe there are three things that have become the pillars of Pixar’s power.

Creative Risk –  Taking risk doesn’t come without some sort of creative thought.  With Toy Story, you see they had a specific vision; a through line with a define for a strong outcome.  This basis laid the framework for the rest of their films.  When you think of Pixar, you think of how they take the obscure and deliver on magical results.  Two that stand out are Ratatouille and Wall-E.  With the former, you have a rat (Remy) that wants to be a well renowned chief in Paris.  The latter, you have a robot (Wall-E) who crossed galaxies to prove his love to another (Eve).  On the surface it seemed impossible, but at Pixar, the creative risk erected there first pillar.

Generation Appeal –  Having the right appeal can make or break a film’s success.  No matter race, age or gender, finding that audience defines the creativity of a studio’s venture.  At Pixar, taking that creative risk begins with an appeal across generations.  From the youngest to the oldest, they layer entertainment with relatable themes.  This appeal started with Toy Story, and continued through the rest of Pixar’s Catalog.  From the funny antics of a fish, bug or family of superpowers, to the thematic appeal of family, love and friendship within the same premises (Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life and The Incredibles), there is something aspiring in the tale.  Creating that middle through path is remarkable, but that generation appeal built up the second pillar for Pixar.

Story of Heart –  With that creative risk and generation appeal, what becomes the keystone to everything is the story.  At the heart of every Pixar film, the story brings everything home.  This is what made Toy Story a memorable film.  Being a computer-generated world of talking toys is already hard to believe, but making that idea relatable through subtle detail and dialogue shows the strength in the script.  This rippled throughout the rest of the catalog, showing how the detail of the mind (Inside Out) and the bond of music with family (Coco) can be emotionally heartfelt.  Seeing the story propel you through shows the ability of the fantastical to be more than visual eye-candy.  This leads to the third pillar of Pixar’s Power.

From there humble beginning, Pixar ringed in an era where films weren’t just defined by the medium, but by something more.  With Toy Story, they set the mark that if you take that creative risk and find a generational appeal, the audience will see animated films for the heart of their stories.  Even with minor hiccups along the way, the power of Pixar continues to be the building block for every animated feature film.

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