So, I have a confession. It took me WAY too long to see Up (2009). All of my friends were raving about it when it came out, but for some reason I was not into the movie at all, so it was years later before I saw it. And then there’s that crazy huge bird, the talking dogs, a half-crazed explorer, etc. etc. But, I digress….
Up tells the story of retired widower Carl Fredrickson (Ed Asner), who turns his old house into a flying machine via thousands of balloons so that he can fulfill the last dream of his deceased wife: to visit Paradise Falls in South America. Almost immediately he picks up a stowaway: a young “Wilderness Explorer” named Russell (Jordan Nagai) who needs to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly.
The journey is full of surprises, including an unexpected encounter with Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer), a legendary explorer that Carl idolized as a child. Decades ago, he returned from an expedition claiming he’d discovered a new type of flightless bird, but was ridiculed by the scientific community as a liar. He departed, vowing to bring back a live specimen, and had never returned. As it turns out, Carl and Russell end up encountering a certain flightless bird (dubbed “Kevin” by Russell) which inevitably brings them to Muntz’s attention.
The music for this whimsical (and at the same time, deeply touching) film was composed by Michael Giacchino, whose prior work includes such films as Mission Impossible III, Star Trek and the sequel Into Darkness, The Incredibles, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World.
The opening of the film is what always sticks with me the most. In it, we see a montage of Carl’s life, from meeting Ellie as a young boy, to falling in love with her, to sadly discovering they can’t have children of their own, to the pair growing old. Over time, they continually save up to make that trip to Paradise Falls, but something always happens to stop them. Finally, Carl has the tickets purchased, but as he prepares to surprise his wife, she collapses and has to go to the hospital. That’s why Carl is so determined to make the trip, he knows it’s what Ellie would have wanted him to do. This part still makes me cry every single time I see it.
In this interview segment, Giacchino, along with the director, discuss how the score came together, and inbetween the moments of talking, there are wonderful scenes showing the orchestra in the recording studio (I love watching moments like these). Giacchino is an immensely talented composer, and Up is a great addition to both film and film music.
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*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios