What does it mean to grieve? How do we push forward to a new adventure?
These are questions any person going through a difficult circumstance asks, and what the filmmakers of UP are asking.
As believers, we know through scripture, there is a time for everything, including grieving. In fact, grieving through community brings us closer together, but most times in our society, we choose to go it alone.
In UP, Carl Fredrickson loses his wife, with whom he was never able to have children. The beginning part of UP takes us from joy and laughter to sadness and tears. Through interactions with the corporation attempting to buy his home and Russell, we see that Carl has become a bitter man. We also get to see him talk to his house as if it were Ellie, his deceased wife. Carl’s a broken man in need of a new start…only the fresh start he got was so very different than what he expected.
Through his relationship with Russell, Carl begins to rediscover compassion for other people. On learning that Russell’s father isn’t present and wants nothing to do with him, Carl starts to feel a sense of paternalism about their relationship. As the story unfolds, we see through his desire to keep Russell safe, then ultimately saving Russell’s life, that Carl has turned a new leaf. At the badge ceremony, Carl has fully rediscovered compassion for others and become a surrogate father to Russell.
It wasn’t easy for Carl; he still held onto that house and the chairs that he and Ellie shared. Ellie was his life partner, one Carl thought he would have until his own death. But her death was much sooner than anticipated. Carl felt he failed Ellie in never accomplishing her dream of visiting Paradise Falls, but as we discover, Ellie’s idea of adventure changed when she married Carl. When Carl sits down at the end right before going off to save Russell, he has accomplished what he thought Ellie always wanted. Carl had brought her (the house) to Paradise Falls. But, when he sits down in despair of not getting the actual Ellie there, he opens her adventure book. In the book, he finally sees Ellie has put their life memories through pictures in place of adventure. Then at the end, a picture of them and a note:
“Thanks for the adventure! Now go have another one!”
We, as the audience, go on Carl’s journey with him. We feel Carl’s pain, joy and overcoming. It’s through this journey we discover how not only to grieve but also how to come alongside someone who is grieving. It’s painful and messy, and people will lash out, but as Christ-minded people, we push forward into the darkness with our brothers and sisters. When grieving, we also have the opportunity to look outward to those around us, avoiding self-focus. That is not to say we do not need to focus on becoming healthy individuals, but rather through community, we grow into complete health.
Moving forward is tough through any difficult circumstance. Like Carl, it can become easy to hide away, and for a time that may be necessary, but at some point, there comes a time to push forward and to find the new adventure that comes next.
Image found HERE.
“UP,” a film by Walt Disney Productions and Pixar Animation Studios