Time to acknowledge the obvious here before we start. I am a big Pixar fan. I, like many others, was raised on the stories that the film company showed through the art of 3D animation. I remember having nearly all of them on VHS when people still knew what a VHS was. The non stop watching of Monsters Inc religiously as a toddler, followed by the out of this world experience of witnessing those famous first few minutes of Up in a packed, emotional cinema as a child. Being a part of the group of teenagers who eagerly awaited the release of The Incredibles 2, fourteen years in the making. Now I am a college student, and even then, I made sure to watch Onward as soon as it came out on Disney+. Pixar has been a part of my entire life. It’s only fair to celebrate the anniversary of their first feature film, Toy Story.
Toy Story premiered nationwide across the United States on the 22nd of November, 1995. It was the first entirely computer-animated feature film ever made. That still blows my mind. Before that, people only ever associated computer-animation with short films or minor parts in big movies. Dozens upon dozens of computer-animated films are released every year from multiple companies. They are a big part of cinema and one of the biggest money makers at the box office. Toy Story was the absolute first, the grandfather of computer-animated films. How I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see the reactions of cinemagoers as they observed Woody flail around and run in all different sorts of directions – groundbreaking for its time. We have a high standard now when we watch animation, while that alone was revolutionary for them.
Unless you have lived under a rock for the last twenty-five years, I am pretty confident everyone knows the plot of Toy Story by now. Toys are alive and Andy’s toys are led by Sheriff Woody. Andy gets a new toy called Buzz Lightyear, making Woody jealous. Woody and Buzz fight, get separated from Andy and must get home. Bish-bash-bosh, it is a tale for the ages. Eighty minutes of pure, hectic fun has inspired a multitude of computer-animated films and three sequels of its own. Such a revolutionary movie for its time, other film companies tried desperately to better it. Believe it or not, the second fully computer-animated film was released by DreamWorks, with Antz releasing in 1998. ‘90s DreamWorks spent the latter part of the decade attempting to surpass Pixar and Disney with their own takes on computer-animation and traditional animation, respectively. If it was not for Toy Story’s success, then we probably would not have gotten the animated franchises that we grew up on.
The noughties were the period where computer-animation began to dominate the cinemas. Moving away from Toy Story for the decade, Pixar instigated the golden age of computer-animation with seven high-profile releases. From Finding Nemo to Ratatouille, Pixar continued to outdo itself with brand new innovative technology being used between each release. Serene deep seas, Barren wastelands, tropical forests; each film took a different approach never seen before. Pixar’s continued success brought a battle for the ages, with DreamWorks and Blue-Sky Studios looking to stamp authority with their own releases. Yes, Shrek fans, you can thank Pixar’s success for inspiring DreamWorks to give you four films.
Even as the noughties rolled into the 2010’s and Disney displaced Pixar as the main driving force of advanced computer-animation (because Disney needs to be the absolute best at everything nowadays), Pixar continued to roll out successful movies in the shape of sequels to beloved classics. They appealed to their main demographic – i.e. my generation – as we got fantastic sequels such Monster’s University, Finding Dory, The Incredibles 2, while we do not speak of Cars 2. While there has certainly been a few more misses than the prior decade, the hits have been legendary. I do not think I ever managed to sit through Inside Out or Coco without shedding a tear, and I probably will never be able to.
You mention Pixar to one random person on the street and you are bound to get a unique memory from one of their many movies that has had an impact on their life. Pixar has been a part of film and pop culture for a quarter of a century now, and it is here to stay. I could talk about Pixar for hours upon end, but I only have 850 words to celebrate the impact it has had on our lives for this paper. From the fun and chaotic stories of a rat making food to the tear-jerking moments of saying goodbye to a young friend you grew attached to, there is a Pixar movie for any occasion that will appeal to adults with its brilliant storytelling, and kids with its colourful animation. Pixar has given us so much these last twenty-five years, who knows what they can accomplish when they get to fifty, to a hundred, to infinity and beyond.