12 September 2009

Up the birthday

The last couple of days have been interesting. Yesterday was my birthday, the third day of the conference, and hubby's graduation. My birthday was sort of postponed until today!

The graduation was really good. It wasn't your typical university-style graduation ceremony, all black robes, fancy hoods and ritual coming out your eyeballs: this was Playcentre and it was colourful, funny, and lighthearted. What they are awarding is really parts of a diploma in early childhood and adult education - it's done in stages, with certificates awarded at the end of each stage. Hubby has just finished the fifth course (of six): only one of about thirty people nationwide that have got through that far this year. He's hoping to finish off his diploma next year - if the last of the six courses is finished being written in time!

So my birthday was postponed, which was fine with me. We went to see UP, the new movie from Disney Pixar, with small daughter, and then had dinner at Hogsbreath (mmmm, steak....).

I was very impressed with UP. It was unusually adult-focused, in that there was a very definite adult storyline as we followed the life, love, and loss of Carl Fredricksen: the "preamble" was about him as a young boy and man meeting the love of his life. Both he and his wife-to-be had a wanderlust: specifically, they wanted to go to South America. But life intervened: attempts to have a baby (which wasn't possible - shown very sensitively), living, fixing the house, growing old together, and finally the death of his wife. Then he was supposed to go into a rest home, aged 78, but instead made his house fly (using helium balloons!), intending to head to South America - ending up with a small stowaway in the form of a local Boy Scout - and then the adventure began as he tried to get to Paradise Falls with this small boy in tow, and discovering that life is about living and loving where you are.

What touched me about the movie was watching Carl coming to terms with the death of his wife Ellie, and the guilt and disappointment he felt he must have caused her in that he never got to take her to South America. She had written a "my adventure book" when she was a child, with plans to go to this place "Paradise Falls" and child-Ellie had left the second half of the adventure book blank for her to fill in her adventures when she got there. Carl felt she'd died with never having experienced her adventure, but partway through the movie, he found her book again - and discovered she'd filled the last part with photographs and stories of their long life together, signing it, "Dear Carl, thanks for all the adventures, love Ellie" - that bit made me tear up. It's a long time since a Disney movie has made me cry!

Small daughter enjoyed the funny parts and the adventure story, but hubby and I were both really moved by the adult themes and stories of this movie. Disney usually constructs its movies on two levels, but we almost felt this one was aimed more at the adults in the audience than the children. I really felt for some of the grandmas and grandads in the audience who were bringing their grandchildren - it would have been really hard for some of them, especially if they'd lost their loved ones.

I recommend this one, even if you're not that into Disney.

I found this story about how Pixar actually released the movie early for a private screening for one little girl who was dying of cancer - who saw the movie and then died later that night, with an "adventure book" like the one Ellie Fredricksen had - with her (a gift from Pixar).

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