A Video Essay Guide to Pixar

From Toy Story to Inside Out and The Incredibles, here are five video essays on Pixar you should watch.
Pixar Toy Story
By  · Published on August 1st, 2018

From Toy Story to Inside Out and The Incredibles, here are five video essays on Pixar you should watch.

So, after my last video essay guide, the haters came out:

But, I had a trick up my sleeve:

Look who won the fav war. *Insert checkmate GIF here*

Because I’m getting shots fired at me for treating “children’s” moving images with the kind of intellectual depth they deserve, I figured I would double down. If you’re reading this website, or live on this planet, I don’t need to explain to you why Pixar is worthy of its own video essay guide. In fact, I am probably doing Pixar and its body of work a disservice by lumping them all into one guide.

All I will say is: Here are five video essays about Pixar you should watch.

Pixar’s Tribute to Cinema

Here’s the golden rule of good children’s programming: If adults like it, it’s good. Now, of course, there are exceptions, but there’s a reason the great children’s movies transcend age; our love for most great children’s films can and must be attributed to more than nostalgia.

In this great video essay, Jorge Luengo Ruiz explores the tributes Pixar films pay to the history of cinema and illustrates another golden rule: the subtle, sometimes not, allusions attract the attention of the adult viewer, and keep them charmed and watching.

How Pixar Uses Music To Make You Cry

Sound design is one of the most appreciated elements of a film. Unless your film features the score of folks like John Williams and Bernard Herrmann, chances are your music will go unnoticed. But, that does not mean it isn’t important.

When you think of Pixar, music is not the first thing that comes to mind, apart from maybe the soundtrack of Toy Story. Either way, this video essay does a good job in outlining why you should care about music and how it goes about evoking the emotions that are so central to the Pixar experience.

A Pair of Inside Out Essays

Because Anger is my spirit animal, I figured I would include two Inside Out video essays, they’re also really good. The first is from Lessons from the Screenplay. It deals with the screenwriters’ own emotional journeys while writing the film and discusses how the best writers are those that are in tune with their own emotions and are willing to explore them on paper and on screen.

Similarly, this next essay uses Inside Out as a way to examine the relationship between reason and emotion. It explores how society often places these two in conflict. Using an old Disney film as an example, the video essay explains how Inside Out is Pixar’s attempt to combat that false dichotomy.

The Ultimate Antagonist

Quick, what’s the first word you think of when I say “antagonist?” Probably “bad,” right?

Well, as you probably know, antagonist and villain are not synonymous. This video essay, made by my Middlebury classmate Ian Scura, does a great job outlining the different kinds of antagonists, inside and outside of Pixar. Get it?

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Will DiGravio is a Brooklyn-based critic, researcher, and video essayist, who has been a contributor at Film School Rejects since 2018. Follow and/or unfollow him on Twitter @willdigravio.