Outside of “Inside Out”

Out of selfish interest, I dragged two of my friends to watch the new Disney Pixar’s movie “Inside Out” on Sunday. We were supposed to watch it with my bestfriend Kristin, who unfortunately got ill the day before. We pursued with the plan without her because I badly needed to divert my attention from all the negative things floating within me.

“Inside Out” was being talked about by so many people in my Facebook newsfeed since its release date. I wanted to see for myself what the fuss was about. Finally I was able to catch it with Lor and Kevin.

Being a satisfied viewer, I could not resist the urge to write my personal take on the movie based on what I experienced inthe theater as well as the impact it left on me as a spectator. Hence, here I am putting everything I could into words.

Similar with many Pixar films, “Inside Out” is a motion picture packaged in an entertainment that kids and mature viewers alike would appreciate. It is in the form of animation which the grown-ups usually consider as something for the children. If one would scrutinize however, it was presented in a classic Pixar style which is in a medium “child-like” yet targets the adult audience.

Noticeably there were so many Psychological concepts and terms encapsulated in the film which kids are not usually familiar with. Long term memory, core memories, personality islands, the dump, sub-conscious, dream production, REM, and whatnot are the ideas which one gets acquainted with and expounded on in Psychology101 classes. These are not things which children would usually encounter nor are these concepts one throws at children during play time.

What Pixar did though was it laid down something seemingly-exclusively-mature in a manner that could be digested and could be easily comprehended by the young viewers. More importantly it provided a good introduction of Freudian and Jungian Psychology to consumers which made the film not only interesting but informative as well.

Five personified emotions namely Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust which every human person without alexithymia would easily identify with were the central characters in the movie. They were the key feelings inside the head of the 11 year old girl Riley Andersen who was originally from Minnesota and moved with her family to San Francisco. These five characters controlled Riley’s insides as well as her reactions in the day to day events of her life.

When Riley was still younger, Joy was the dominating emotion. Most of the memories stored in her memory bank as well as the ones that made-up her core memories were happy ones. Such thoughts were the ones responsible in the development of her bubbly personality. Same is true with a sunny girl like me who used to dwell on the happy side of things until a certain point in time when reality hit me with several unfamiliar circumstances.

As the story developed, Riley began to get into more complicated situations just like a phase in normal pre-pubescent years which stirred her emotions. The once prevalent feeling— Joy, started to be overpowered by Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. The memory balls stored in her long term memory which were once mostly yellow turned into a mix of blue, red, lavender, and green.

The anxiety brought about by the move to a new city triggered Riley’s complex reaction on things. Joy and Sadness were also sucked away from the headquarters causing her to lose two important emotions for a certain period. This particular point in the movie reminds me of the numbness that I am presently feeling—an apathetic and indifferent attitude towards life.

Losing some of Riley’s happy memories which got deposited in the dump—a natural process of burying memories in a deeper level of cognition— caused things to be out of hand.  She experienced more mood swings and emotional fluctuations as she tried to deal with her current life. This resulted in the core memories crumbling down and thus shattering the personality islands one by one.

As the story progressed, the old islands were replaced by new personality traits founded on new experiences. This shows how dynamic a person can be and reflects how personality traits are ever evolving. Therefore, it is impossible to peg a person or to box an individual in one single definition.

Moreover, human memories are associated with emotions. There are those memories which were once happy but by shifting ones perspective (which happens as one matures) could become gloomy. Aside from this, the movie was able to emphasize that it is possible that there is no one ruling emotion— that it is natural to conceive mixed feelings.

The most striking part in the film for me was Joy’s effort to resurface despite the ongoing clamor inside Riley. It puts emphasis on the human’s desire for happiness even if sadness casts a huge shadow within— no one wants to be in a miserable position. Such portrays how we try to cover up the melancholy inside us by putting on a mask of pretentious laughter or smile.

What was more salient about the movie was how it was able to show the audience that Joy and Sadness are actually not opposites. Pixar was able to break the common notion that one contradicts the other. “Inside Out” was able to acknowledge that Joy and Sadness are coexisting and that the two are part of the same coin.

Additionally, the movie was able to express the importance of an emotion we usually deem negatively—sadness. We dismiss such emotion so often and fears the tears that accompany it; but in reality it is healthy to pause for a while and cry.

In films we watch or novels we read, we are so concern about looking for the moral of the story.  “Inside Out” like the other Pixar films is not similar to an elementary book reading report that tells one ‘not to judge the book by its cover’. It is a movie that presents and tackles the natural human condition. It implicitly aims to guide viewers in understanding the ‘individual’ as well as the self. I believe we need more movies like “Inside Out”, a film that does not simply dwell on the ‘what’ but more importantly on the ‘how’ and the ‘why’.

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