We went to see Up last night and found it quite charming. Our daughter had insisted that we should see it in 3-D, but it didn't seem to be available in that version any more locally. I guess the 3-D theaters had moved on to new material. Still, I'm just as happy that we didn't. I discovered that dizzying heights bother me just as much on screen as in real life, and much of the film takes place at dizzying heights, with dizzying dives in space! For all that critics have swooned about it being a movie for adults as well as for children, I left with some of my usual reservations about Disney films. This one had its share of those cute and sentimental qualities that I tend to recoil from. Churlish me, I guess. Like the film's hero, Mr. Frederickson, who finds salvation through the adventure that he thought to have missed out on while his beloved wife (Ellie!) was still alive. As I say, we found it charming.
It was the previews, though, that had me wondering about what we're feeding our children in the guise of entertainment. Clearly, it's unfair to judge films on the basis of a two-minute preview, but I was struck by the eerie similarity of the several that we saw: all were big-screen, animated affairs, featuring battles between monstrous beings ranging from prehistoric dinosaurs and mammoths to sci-fi alien invaders from outer space. Accompanied by sound as violent and clashing as the images themselves, and created with a technology so sophisticated as to engulf the viewer with its overwhelming "reality", I could only imagine how these stories could impose on the receptive mind of a child.
It's a frightening aspect of our culture, I think, that we have reached the point where this kind of violence is what we present to our children in the form of summer entertainment. And, by some strange paradox, Disney has seen fit to bowdlerize the stories of the Brothers Grimm! Somehow, the image of the woodcutter opening up the belly of the wolf to release Little Red Ridinghood's grandmother was deemed, not too many years ago, to be unacceptable, while today the cacophonous clash of titans roars across the giant screens. The Grimms, it seems to me, understood the formative power of inviting the child imaginatively into the dark side of the psyche. The films today make it all too powerfully real.
So much for cute and sentimental!