The power of cinema lies in the effects films have on people. Films can make you cry, laugh, alter your opinions, influence you, be representative of a milestone in your life and can even change your life. Our new weekly film column, ‘The Film That…’, explores the impacts of cinema on people. This week, Film Editor Emily Murray explains why Toy Story 3 symbolised the end of her childhood.
Back in 1995 a small company called Pixar produced and released with Disney their first ever theatrical film, a story about toys that come to life fittingly called Toy Story. Who would have guessed that this animated adventure would not only dramatically change the fortunes of Pixar, but also alter the face of computer-animated cinema and set new high standards that family films and animations would have to now reach. Before Toy Story Pixar made short animated films to promote their computers, but then Disney spotting their talent approached them with the offer of producing a theatrical film. The process was tedious, tenuous and tangled, and it took a long time to develop the idea with multiple script rewrites and changes to the tone. But in 1995 Toy Story was released and took the world by storm, quickly becoming a huge box office success and a critically acclaimed animation masterpiece. Pixar seemed to have found their true purpose, and have since made films that have created worlds for our imaginations to explore and brought to life on screen things that had previously only ever occurred in our dreams.
One child who was particularly blown away by Pixar’s films was me, and admittedly even now I love nothing better than to escape from reality and explore the wonderful worlds Pixar’s latest films bring to life. But out of all their productions, from Wall-E to Up to A Bug’s Life, my favourites will always be the Toy Story trilogy, which in my mind stands as the second greatest trilogy of cinema history, after Christopher Nolan’s magnificent Dark Knight series.
The Toy Story films played a huge role in the shaping of my childhood. Back in 1995 when the first film was released I was a one year old tot, and although then I would have been too young to enjoy the animated adventure, it wouldn’t be long until I was begging my parents to put the Toy Story video into the VCR player again and again. It really was the perfect film for children with lovable characters, jokes to make the kids giggle, bright and colourful visuals and an adventurous storyline that will hold the attention of any toddler. Most importantly though adults could also enjoy it, and so my parents really didn’t mind mine and my younger sister’s repetitive calls for our favourite Pixar film. In fact I reckon they secretly hoped that when it came to television time Toy Story would be the request as they were longing to be taken on an adventure with Woody and Buzz too.
Toy Story 2 was always my favourite as a child though, and it still is the highlight of the trilogy for me. Released in 1999 I would have been six years old, the right age to be able to go to the cinema and enjoy a feature-length film. Even though I have not watched it for a few years now, I saw it that many times growing up I know the film back to front. Quite a few of my childhood memories centre around watching Toy Story 2. I can remember feeling terrified for the toys in the climatic airport scene, laughing at the bloopers at the end, being thrilled by the opening Buzz Lightyear scene, enjoying Barbie’s tour round Al’s Toy Shop and crying at Jessie’s tragic tale, which was made more emotional as her owner shared my name. When my mum won a trip to New York she came home with a Jessie doll each for my and my sister, and I can remember telling my Jessie that I will never abandon her like the other Emily did in the film.
Me and my sister loved playing with our Jessie dolls as children, and created worlds for them to explore and be a part of. As a child I was never that interested in Barbie dolls or video games, although there was this brilliant Toy Story computer game which involved getting the characters across the road underneath traffic cones like in the film. Instead when it came to playtime me and my sister would go to our room and bring to life our soft toys. For us as children our toys were very much alive, and the Toy Story films reminded us of this inspiring us to play them. One of the messages continually repeated throughout the trilogy is that toys are meant to be played with and loved, and this message really struck a chord in me as a child. We let our imaginations run wild and created elaborate worlds for our toys to explore. We had a hotel run by Big Bear and Mummy Bear, a king and queen in the shape of Lucky and Penny from 101 Dalmations, a spy organisation run by princess and prince Lady and Tramp and a rabbit that was a science genius and created a medicine that would allow her to stay young forever. And that was just the start…
The release of Toy Story 3 then was a big deal for me. The previous films meant so much to me, especially during childhood, and so it had to be perfect. Thankfully it was. Adventurous, hilarious, lovable, fun and most importantly emotional, it delivered on all aspects and was a magical ending to the magnificent trilogy. However, to me Toy Story 3 was not just a great film, but also symbolic of the end of my childhood. I was fifteen years old when it was released and had of course already said goodbye to my days of playing with toys. I had just finished my GCSE’s and was about to start sixth form in September, and it wouldn’t be too long until I would be moving away from home and heading to university. When I watched Toy Story 3 then I immediately felt a connection with Andy, who had also grown up and was moving away from home to study at college. The film centred around this story, and at the end he says goodbye to his childhood when he says farewell to Woody, Buzz and co. This really struck a chord with me as I realised that like Andy I too had to now wave goodbye to my childhood and enter the scary world of the grown-ups.
Every time I watch Toy Story 3 I am left in floods of tears at the end. I am not just crying at the events of the film though. I am waving farewell again to my childhood.