“Childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul.”-Ivan Doig
The first thing that comes to a person’s mind when they hear animated movies is ‘oh! They are for kids; I don’t watch them.’ But that is precisely why one should watch them. Childhood is a time of dreams unaltered by reality. Everyone wishes to go back to that colorful time when responsibilities were null, and fun was at an all-time high. It is also a time when a person’s worldview is pure. There is only black and white, with no grey shades.
This target audience is kept in mind while making animated movies. There is a hero, and a villain in the film, and everyone knows who is who. There are no major plot twists. But some of the recent movies are changing this trend. What sets animated movies apart are the emotions that resonate with them. Films such as Coco and Inside Out impart life lessons regarding love, compassion, and empathy in easily digestible pieces. Animated movies also shed light on heavy-handed issues such as depression, grief, and loss. These topics have been taboo in the industry so far. There have been movies, other than animated ones, dealing with such issues but those movies come out as preachy and/or dark. Those genres might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but every person needs to be aware of these issues. This is quite the problem, and animated movies come to the rescue.
There is a beautiful, must-watch movie called ‘Up’ in which the main character deals with the loss of his spouse, and his journey to overcome the grief is documented. Another film, ‘The Incredibles’ deals with the loss of purpose in life and the extent to which a person might go to regain it. Its sequel also deals with the highly controversial topic of the mom going to work and the dad staying back to take care of the family. Movies such as ‘The Lorax’ and ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ deal with humankind’s greed.
Then there are movies such as ‘Frozen’, ‘Brave’ and ‘Tangled’ which give the message of women empowerment and breaking stereotypes. ‘Moana’ talks about following one’s heart. Another pathbreaking film is ‘Kung Fu Panda’ which contributes much to the discussion of body positivity. It talks about the perceptions that other people have about ‘fat’ people. Its sequels also deal with adoption and the issues that follow it.
All of the messages are subliminal and are not provocative. Some of these messages cannot even be recognized and that is the entire point of such films. Some things need not be recognized to be learned, they are learned by watching and imitating. They have a subtle effect on attitudes and currently, that’s all that is needed.
– Darshana Jose