In the year 1995, the world of cinema was introduced to a sheriff and a space ranger. However these were not your typical movie stars. For the first time in cinema history, a feature film’s stars were to be computer-generated. Movie-goers were about to go to infinity and beyond. Toy Story (1995) tells the tale of a beloved toy sheriff who must compete for the affection of his owner with a brand new toy. Both their worlds are turned upside down when jealousy takes over and they are both lost in a human world.
It is easy to understand why Toy Story ranks among the top one hundred films of all time. From the incredible reviews and reception of the film at its time of release, to the excellent editing of the entire film, and finally, a simple form combined with a complex context, Toy Story is without a doubt a visual masterpiece, light years ahead of its time. Toy Story was released in November of 1995 and quickly became the movie of that year.
Prior to the film’s release, executive producer Steve Jobs stated, “If Toy Story is a modest hit—say $75 million at the box office—we’ll [Pixar and Disney] both break even. If it gets $100 million, we’ll both make money. But if it’s a real blockbuster and earns $200 million or so at the box office, we’ll make good money, and Disney will make a lot of money. ” Little did Jobs know how massive a hit his film would become. In the first five days of its release, the film made just over thirty-nine million dollars.
It would go on to earn over $191 million dollars, and quickly became the highest grossing film of the entire year. The film’s worldwide earnings were nearly double, reaching $362 million dollars. Although there is no certain correlation between a film’s box office earnings and its merit, one would have to believe that these kind of numbers would surely suggest that it was also a cinematically successful film. Toy Story was nominated for three Academy Awards, most notably for Best Writing. It has also received critical acclaim from many well-respected critics.
Perhaps one of the most respected critics, Roger Ebert, hailed the film by saying, “Watching the film, I felt I was in at the dawn of a new era of movie animation, which draws on the best of cartoons and reality, creating a world somewhere in between, where space not only bends but snaps, crackles and pops. ” (Ebert) The popular press and critics of the time received Toy Story extremely well, and the vast majority of the reviews are positive and praising of the film in every shape and form. They all read the film’s ideology and themes the exact same way I did.
While viewing the film, the viewer gets lost in this brand new universe of talking toys, which like Ebert said, has the utmost best of both cartoon and reality. Leonard Klady, of the magazine Variety, also praises the themes of Toy Story by saying, “The film’s emotional qualities are almost haunting. Woody’s roller coaster of feelings is every bit as palpable as that of a live-action hero. And Buzz, despite an intrinsic decency, lives with the delusion that he’s flesh and blood. When he comes face to face with his true identity, the moment is extremely poignant. ” (Klady) I could not agree more.
Both Woody and Buzz face human problems that the audience can truly relate to, yet we forget that they are toys living in a toy world where the human element is removed. The viewer’s heart cannot seem to resist feeling that revenge that Woody wants so desperately when Buzz seemingly takes over Andy’s room. And the audience’s heart seems to break as Buzz’s identity comes crashing down and his mind is broken, leaving the viewer feeling sorry for a toy, singing “You’ve Got A Friend In Me. ” That song, from the opening credits, truly states the overall theme of the film.
Even when somebody wrongs you, and takes away something that you held to be very dear, that person can grow to become a friend, and even a best friend, who will stand up for you, defend you when they know you are wrong, and even jump onto a ferocious dog to protect you from being left behind. The friendship that is created between Woody and Buzz is extremely realistic and relatable. Even when Woody is demoted to second favorite toy, and tries to eliminate Buzz, the two grow closer together through a serious of rather unfortunate and daring adventures. They even seem to face certain death in Sid’s house.
Yet because of a stirring speech in which Woody tells Buzz that he cannot do it alone, Buzz rediscovers who he is as not only a toy, but what his true mission is on this planet: to be a friend. Toy Story truly creates a magnificent parallel between this life of the toys to the audience’s own lives. We are all just like one of those toys on the screen. Every human has its own place in this world. We all have status, friends, enemies, and for some, a figure that created us, who loves us. Toy Story truly shows us how horrific life can be, but at the same time, how wonderful it can also be, as long as we have true friends.
Each critic recognized this in some way or another, but especially David Ansen of Newsweek, when he says, “I had no idea just how tough the life of a toy really was. It’s not just the rough-and-tumble, getting whacked around by some little dork who has no consideration for your feelings. It’s the insecurity, the paranoia, the anxiety! Like any member of the work force, you live in fear of being replaced by some newer model. Like a lover, you have the constant nagging suspicion that your owner’s affection will be stolen by a rival. Sure, today he says you’re his favorite toy.
But tomorrow you might be cast into the purgatory of a trunk, until your plastic corrodes or your stuffing falls out. ” (Ansen) Thus, there was no doubt as to why Toy Story earned so much revenue at the box office, and received so many positive reviews. Aside from the incredible themes and heart-warming plot that drove Toy Story to such massive success, the film was also extremely well edited. Seeing as how it was entirely computer-animated, there would be no need to worry about a smooth flow of time, space, or action. However, the creators of Toy Story still paid attention to every last detail.
The film still has a feel as if it were a real life film where camera angles, takes, transitions, and framing are all equally employed. For example, there is an astonishing shot where Woody climbs up to the bed to see who this stranger is that Andy just brought back to the room. As Woody finally reached the top of the bed, the camera angle changes from following Woody to a shot from the other side of the bed, where the audience sees Woody’s eyes creep up above the mattress. Suddenly the camera begins to zoom out, where the audience now sees two green space boots, with Woody’s face perfectly framed below Buzz.
As Woody’s shocked face disappears from the frame, the audience is finally introduced to Buzz Lightyear with a medium close-up shot as the music crescendos to a heroic end. Another scene that is extremely well edited is the scene mentioned before, where Buzz finally rediscovers who he is. Woody is trapped underneath an inescapable crate, while Buzz is slumped over close-by, with a rocket of death taped to his back as rain pours down and thunder crashes. A scene of sadness and what looks to be a hero giving up, is beautifully edited to truly deliver those tones.
Woody pleads his case in the darkness and confinement of his crate with the intersecting shadows on his face, resembling an ‘X,’ which seemingly represent the end, or death. While Buzz listens to Woody’s lament, the shadows of the rain pouring down the window in front of him are magnified not only on his face mask, but all over his white outfit. In this film, toys can not only talk, but in this scene, they can show such powerful emotion, which is shown in the rain running down in shadows all over Buzz. Woody is trapped, and Buzz has hit rock bottom, as tears fall down in raindrops outside Sid’s house.
There is also a perfect use of dark, gloomy colors in this scene. Dark blues, purples, and grays dominate the scene. Not even the bright yellows and reds of Woody’s outfit can win in the sadness of the shadows he is trapped within. Woody’s magnificent speech finishes as it hits a certain chord within Buzz. He finally realizes what his life is, and this is reflected in the editing of the scene. As soon as Woody turns his back, birds are heard chirping and the colors radically shift into the bright, vivid colors they once were, as Buzz finally snaps out of his own darkness.
The rain is over, the greens and purples of his suit are now loud and dynamic. The camera slowly zooms in to another close-up on Buzz as he finally smiles again and the sun shines on his face mask. These two scenes are just a couple of the wonderfully edited scenes of this incredible film. The way that they were edited truly did affect the way I read the film. Each scene was edited in a way so that I was easily able to follow and comprehend what was happening in each respective scene. Because of the editing, Toy Story has a precise flow of events, and the audience is never left guessing what the tone of the scene should be.
Each scene is meticulously crafted in a way that the characters do not seem to be toys, but rather real life action heroes, in an Academy Award-winning film. In the opening scene of the film, there is a certain line delivered by Woody, while all of the toys are frantically worrying about who will be their move buddies, that perfectly illustrates how Toy Story uses a simple form, yet has several complex contents. Woody, while running the toy meeting, opens by saying, “Tuesday night’s plastic corrosion awareness meeting, was I think, a big success.
We’d like to thank Mr. Spell for putting that on for us, thank you Mr. Spell… ” This is an example of how this film is not just intended for the children in the audience, but also for the mature viewers who are there to see an entertaining film. Adults can easily relate to an “awareness meeting,” while the children probably missed the entire joke. Toy Story offers incredible content to both children and adults alike. Children can enjoy the fact that there are toys on the screen talking just like them, and can be invited into a world where possibly the ame type of thing is happening in their bedrooms.
While on the other hand, the adults in the audience can truly sympathize and relate with both Woody and Buzz throughout the entire movie, while also enjoying the subtle jokes and nuances placed perfectly within the simple plot line. For example, the younger audience can appreciate the simple slapstick humor offered by Rex, the tyrannosaurus rex, who cannot seem to muster the power to roar or scare anybody, and is rather bossed around quite easily by a Mr. Potato Head.
While at the same time, Rex also can muster a profound line that truly speaks to the older audience present, when he states, “And I’m from Mattel. Well, I’m not really from Mattel, I’m actually from a smaller company that was purchased by Mattel in a leveraged buyout. ” Children will have no idea what this means, but this is what truly makes Toy Story a pioneer in its field. It can offer the simple laughs to its main audience while also speaking directly to those paying closer attention to its intricacies.
Each character in this film represents a certain part of society, or possesses certain characteristics to which everyone can relate. However, it is the main characters of Woody and Buzz to which everyone can relate. Every single person in the audience at one point or another decides quickly whether or not they are a Woody or a Buzz. And this conclusion can be drawn because of the incredibly lifelike portrayals and characteristic progressions of both characters. Woody is the sheriff, and thus the boss, which lends to the fact that he has a somewhat flawed personality.
He has his bouts of jealousy, but is also a very loyal friend. Woody is truly sent on a roller coaster ride throughout the film. He is on top of the world in the beginning, being Andy’s favorite, getting kisses from Bo Peep, and running the entire room, knowing that he has the command and respect of each and every toy. However, this life of Woody’s is suddenly overturned as a new toy enters the room, and quickly wins over Andy’s heart. This situation is something that many humans have encountered: something so great which seems to last forever, can just slip away so drastically as a new lonely void is thrust upon us.
Therefore, each audience member can easily relate to Woody’s almost depressed state of mind when he is placed on the incredibly dusty shelf, out of reach and out of view; rock bottom. Then there is also Buzz Lightyear, who many others can easily relate to as well. Buzz tends to be unemotional, yet rational. He is brave and courageous, and will easily put his life out on the line to save those in danger, yet he just doesn’t know the severity of many situations. The world needs people out there to be more like Buzz.
Toy Story offers a fantastic perspective of a realistic friendship. There are going to be stubborn, jealous people out there who need someone to balance out their characteristics, and take off the edge of life. Throughout the entire film the friendship between Woody and Buzz is developed quite intelligently, and honestly depicts how human friendships can begin as well. Person A meets Person B, whether it be in a friendly manner or in a hostile environment, as in the film. One person is jealous of the other, and tries to level out the playing field, by any means possible.
Both persons are then thrust into a situation where they must work together to find out if they are truly going to be friends or not. Even the best of friendships require some manipulation and lying too. The friendship is then put to the test in some situation or another, and both Person A and Person B discover whether or not they have a friend in the other. This is such a humanistic approach to friendship, yet it is the exact same pattern followed by our protagonists in this film. Such simplistic toys can have such humanized tendencies that are so complex beyond any universe.
Woody and Buzz’s friendship that is built throughout the film is a perfect example of how Toy Story utilizes such a simple form to entertain its audience, while at the same time presenting a complex set of intricacies between characters and in the extremely well written screenplay. Toy Story rightfully was light years ahead of its time. From the very first frame to the very last, there was not one single dull moment of the entire film. Each scene was delicately created to jump off the screen, truly entrance and to engage the audience in a seemingly perfect film for all ages.
Pixar studios not only created a visual masterpiece, but set the tone for how all computer-animated films should be from that point on. Toy Story completely set the mark for what was to be expected. It was a film that could easily be released today, without any changes, and still be a marvel for its work. The extreme attention to detail in every aspect of the film essentially puts Toy Story miles ahead of all other animated films even to this day. This attention to detail was enforced upon every aspect of the film, from its editing to its cinematography to its character development to even the song and lyrics of the score.
There was not an inch of Toy Story left unmastered. Thus, it is not a surprise that Toy Story was included in the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films of all time. Each element of the film has been praised, and rightfully so. Toy Story was a visual masterpiece in 1995, and remains a classic to this day, as the same visual masterpiece. “Toy Story” is a marvel because it harnesses its flashy technology to a very human wit, rich characters and a perception no computer could think of: that toys, indeed, are us. ”