Sunday, April 22, 2012

Looking Up: "Hey, I Don't Bite."

Carl horrified by Ellie's Cavalier Treatment of Library Books
Ellie: "I am about to let you see something I have never shown to another human.  You'll have to swear you will not tell anyone.  Cross your heart.  Do it!"

Ellie: "I ripped this right outta of a library book!" <Carl gasps in horror>

Ellie: "You know, you don't talk very much...  I like you!"

In 2009, Disney and Pixar produced Up, a computer animated film which received both critical and popular acclaim.  What sets this particular Disney feature apart from its predecessors (and anything that the Mouse-kateers have produced since) is that the film makes an artistic statement.  Up opens with the 10 minute love story of Ellie and Carl which sets both the setting for the main character and the themes for the film.  For me, perhaps like most, what always stands out about Up are those first ten minutes and how they tie so beautifully into the rest of the narrative.  My favorite scene in the entire film comes with a very shy young Carl meets a brash and loud Ellie.  As Little Carl runs down the street he hears Ellie barking orders at her Gerbil inside an abandoned house.  Curiosity gets the best of the Young Man so he quietly approaches Ellie, noting she, like himself, happens to be a fan of the World Famous Explorer Charles Munz.  Then Ellie notices Quiet Carl and barks at him asking if he believes himself fit to join her club. Poor Carl isn't sure whether to be fascinated or horrified ...or both.  But Ellie means well and when she notices her new buddy's uncertainty she softens her voice, takes off her goggles, gives him a smile, and pins a bottle cap to his shirt saying: "Hey, I don't bite.  You and me, we're in a club now."  Then Old Ellie takes Carl by the hand to find his lost balloon, causes him to break his arm, and later sneaks into his bedroom at night to show him her "Livre D'Adventures" (something she'd never shown anyone in her "entire life!")  As Ellie leaves she tells Carl: "You know, you don't talk very much...I like you!"  

Maybe what gets me about the scene is that I'm an Ellie: a little too loud, too harsh, full of trouble, and capable of ripping whatever I like "right outta of library book" without remorse.  But what I love most about Disney's Ellie is how she softens when she realizes Carl is unsure.  At least for this Gal, age has made it difficult to take off my Goggles, Speak Gently, Take Someone Special by the Hand, and say "I like you".  Experience has taught me that people do, indeed, "bite".  Then again, what are my other options?  Listen, an Ellie minus the kindness is a Scary Ass Bitch.  If she hadn't eased up a bit, softened her approach, and placed a pin on her new buddy's shirt the first ten minutes of Up would have ended with Carl running away red faced and Ellie barking more orders at her pet Gerbil.  Personally, I think there is a lesson there.  Being a Loud and Seemingly Fearless is easy.  But being Gentle isn' least not when it comes to the people who hold your heart.  Maybe what most of us need to hear is just what Ellie said: "Hey, I don't bite.  You and me, we're in a club now."  In fact, I felt strongly enough about my conclusion that it dominated my Pottery Painting Outing on Friday Afternoon.  In a week's time, I will be the proud owner of the Ugliest Piece of Colored Junk "Anyone has ever Saw", but that junk will remind me to take off my Goggles, Hold out my Hand, and Realize that Something Wonderful is Only Possible if We Share the Pages of Our Livre D'Adventure.  Of course, like Ellie, I still insist upon secrecy: "Cross Your Heart.  Do it!"

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