Connecting the Pixar films together

Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb….

Via new film site The Dissolve, Matt Singer’s Read On: Friday’s Noteworthy Film Writing pointed me in the direction of Jon Negroni’s theory connecting all the Pixar films together…

I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme. This theory covers every Pixar production since Toy Story…

Read the full article here.

Expanded Universes are the core to cinema franchises in the 2010s. Whether it is Fast & Furious, Quentin Tarantino’s “Universe” or an inevitable spin-off to Despicable Me in Minions, we are moving away from films that are connected like a ladder – one following on top of one another – instead, film series are much more complicated. I can appreciate the frivolous nature of Negroni’s theory – but the success of combined-Universe films (namely The Avengers and Fast Five) may turn studios and producers attention to legitimising the theories by creating narratives that hop between films. Not least because of the financial prospects when re-releasing the previous films – and the potential spin-offs to follow such a film.

For example, Quentin Tarantino hinted at a Michael Madsen/John Travolta film titled “The Vega Brothers”, connecting Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction irreversibly. This never came to fruition but the “connecting the dots” type of sequel could join the two films together for no true purpose other than expanding on the world Tarantino created. Vega Brothers box sets would be released as the three films are considered ‘The Vega Brothers trilogy’ and in twenty years, when others seek out Pulp Fiction as a staple of post-modern filmmaking, the other two films would serve as some type of context for the film (when they were anything but). In contrast, QT also discussed a Kill Bill Vol. 3 whereby the young daughter of Vivica A. Fox seeks revenge for the murder of her mother – by hunting down Uma Thurman. Excluding the split-up film Kill Bill, Tarantino has yet to create a sequel to any of his films. Personally, the natural-progression of Kill Bill – rather than the forced history of Vincent and Vic Vega – immediately appeals to me.

“Connecting the dots” filmmaking is nothing new of course. I recall reading about a script written shortly after Forrest Gump that was never adapted into a film – but floated around Hollywood as the concept behind the film was so fascinating. Akin to Gump, a character reflects on his life whereby (unlike Gump) he worked and lived in Hollywood since the 1920s and remained within the industry until the late 1960s. The film charted his life by detailing each major cinematic accomplishment and noting the characters involvement. I never read the script personally, but I imagine a situation whereby he hands Charlie Chaplin the cane and hat – or he assists in the casting of Scarlett O’Hara prior to Gone with the Wind – is the type of situation that would crop up. How fascinating that movie-goers could watch the film and almost expect and mentally ‘tick off’ their own wishlist of cinematic milestones of US filmmaking.

Like theories connecting multiple films together, this script is a brilliant idea – but to actually create the film is a different kettle of fish altogether. Alongside ‘The Pixar Theory’, amongst cine-literate friends, we discuss and dream about what would be included and how it connects. But any true clarification – in a definitive guide or multi-character film (Sulley and Buzz in … ) – would take the theoretical and playful imagining and nail it in stone. It may even take away the integrity of the original stories. I adore Finding Nemo. I absolutely think that the heart in the story is beating so strong that adults would be hard-pressed not to crease around the eyes when watching. The last thing I would want to hear is a post-film discussion that simply heralds the ‘connections’ to other Pixar films – and ignoring the film itself. I love the theory – but let’s keep it as a wishful, fantastical theory that may – or may not – be true…

Simon Columb

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