The Wisdom of Pixar
Robert Velarde, Intervarsity Press
Which Pixar film is your favourite? Monsters, Inc. for reminding us how weak fear is compared to laughter? Finding Nemo because of the tireless search for the lost son? Or maybe you prefer the nostalgia for the journey over life’s roads that is Cars, or the drive to use your God-given talents that shines through in Ratatouille; or perhaps it’s Up for teaching us that you’re never too old to follow your dreams?
Regardless, you no doubt have a favourite (or favourite list) of Pixar films, because of the specific virtues any given movie explores, virtues that author Robert Velarde examines in his latest book, The Wisdom of Pixar: An Animated Look at Virtue.
The book, at its root, is about what Velarde calls “virtue ethics” — a system of ethics going back to thinkers like Augustine and C. S. Lewis and others that focuses on building character instead of trying to follow a list of dos and don’ts.
As Velarde examines Pixar chapter by chapter, film by film, character by character, he demonstrates how Pixar is all about writing characters that endure.
You only have to witness Woody’s unfailing loyalty in all of the Toy Story films to recognise that the writers believe in the core values and moral virtue of their characters.
By illuminating the virtues in Pixar’s films, Velarde reveals how, with their lessons and themes, they could rightly be described as parables for the 21st century.