Friday, December 05, 2008
Luxo,Jr: A Pixar Quintessential
The main reason why I chose to join this short film class was because the only knowledge of short films I had came from Pixar’s short films. I truly enjoyed watching these short narratives before the film; to me they were like a bonus Pixar film. As they animation style has evolved, I have become more and more a fan of both their shorts and their feature films. Thus it should be no surprise that as Pixar’s biggest fan I chose a Pixar short to be placed in the category of quintessential.
Pixar is a unique company not only for their brilliance in animation but also because it is the only company I know off to screen shorts commercially as part of the feature experience. Their most recent example of this is called Presto which accompanied the feature film Wall-e. Although I understand the point that Laura was trying to make about the narrative power that the characters of Wall-e and EVE have in the movie without dialogue, Presto equally satisfies, if not more, the idea behind the effectiveness of Pixar narration through facial details and no dialogue. Personally I believe that the features have a completely different style than the shorts do. I even believe that the company has separate teams for both mediums.
But it is true that the company’s distinctive calling to bring narrative via animation by usually humanizing its subject can be traced to its signature film Luxo, Jr. This film put Pixar on the map of animation. For this reason Luxo, the lamp, became Pixar’s mascot and signature as can be seen in the more recent displays of the Animation studio logo. When the name of the company is presented at the begging of the feature Luxo, jumps in to take the place of the I in Pixar.
The short has an incredible simple yet captivating narrative of Luxo Sr. (as it was noted in a previous post) and his interaction with the naïveté of Luxo Jr. who is completely captivated by playing with a small ball. Luxo Sr. joins in on Luxo Jr.’s fun with the ball but once the ball deflates Sr. reacts by shedding light to the fact that the ball is gone. Sr. believing to have done the correct thing as a parent of teaching his child to be more careful is completely taken by surprise that in fact the message that Jr. obtained in all of this was to simply get a bigger ball which he probably won’t be able to deflate. The most interesting part of the short is that Sr. interacts with the audience at the end. As if curious that maybe the feeling of confusion as to what just happened is one and the same. Sr. then simply shakes his head in a similar manner as parents would do when uttering the words “aww kids”.
Sounds are a key aspect to note in this short because the sounds are what compliment almost inseparably the details of humanization given to the lamps. Without the other, the audience would not get as much as it does from the short because the animation wouldn’t feel as believable as it does. The same can be said about sound during the logo presentation; Luxo barely shows any facial expression but the sound explains both what he is trying to do and the frustration behind him not being able to sink the I.
Thus the short belongs in the category of quintessentials because it is a great example of how shorts illustrate narrative in a completely different style than features. The boxer knockout analogy that Julio Cortazar provided for the short story can be used here to exemplify this short film as a unique narration that stands out on its own.
To finalize I believe the short not only is dear to the animation studio because it gave them the ticket to claim success but also because it seems to be based on the studio’s philosophy for film making. If one idea deflates then eventually an even bigger and more fun idea will be found. This is what happened with Wall-e. The first idea for a feature was about robots but the idea simply did not bounce and they came up with Toy Story. But eventually, the robot came back and it has been one of the biggest Pixar hits to date.
PS This short was nominated for the Academy Award in 1986