‘Toy Story’, the Pixar toy turns 25

A scene from ‘Toy Story’

John Lasseter once said that if you take a tour of Pixar or Disney, all the tables are full of toys. That image fit the one that any viewer of his films could fantasize. “All the entertainers, deep down, are fanatics of toys. They are like big children. You have to be to be in this environment “, the producer shared in the making of from the movie he made his directorial debut with 25 years ago.

Released on the big screen on November 22, 1995, Toy Story revolutionized the history of cinema by becoming the first film to be fully animated with digital effects. Pixar’s first feature film was also, among many other things, a tribute to all those toys of our childhood that, for years, had filled our hours with their own and other people’s stories. A story that had the wisdom to appeal to the enthusiasm of children and the nostalgia of adults. The film quickly became a successful film, paving the way for subsequent titles such as Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo O Up, in addition to the three sequels of the saga, the last of 2019.

“We were pioneers and it was very interesting,” the director recalled. When you got to work, there was always something new on the monitor. When we started, we knew we were making the first computer-animated movie. When we cheered her on it was even more exciting. But nothing prepared us for the step he took when we finished the rendering. I was left with my mouth open. I could’nt believe it. I directed the movie, I knew what was coming next, but I couldn’t believe how incredible it was.

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The film became the highest grossing title in the United States and Canada. in its opening weekend and grossed more than $ 360 million globally, in addition to obtaining three nominations at the Oscars. Behind that project, which had lasted for years, were screenwriters Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow and an animation team of 110 employees. Nothing to do with the 800 people who at that same time had worked, for example, in the realization of The Lion King. But it didn’t matter. The success of Toy Story It was such that a toy like the Telesketch slate, whose company was in bankruptcy, increased its sales so much after appearing in the film that the brand was saved from ruin. The story of Woody, Buzz and their friends thus crossed the borders of fiction.

History over technique

With Tom Hanks and Tim Allen —in Spain Carlos Segundo and José Luis Orozco— in the voices of its two main protagonists, one of the secrets of the success of the Pixar film was that the technique was always subject to the story. Inspired by the Oscar-winning short of Tin Toy, created by the studio in 1988, Toy Story told the story of Andy’s toys, led by an “old” cowboy, Woody Pride, who was threatened by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, the technological advances space hero, with whom he would have to ally to return home safely after getting lost in the middle of the city.

Woody
Tom Hanks was in charge of giving voice to Woody in ‘Toy Story’

Although a hymn to friendship, that first film posed other dilemmas such as the gap between the old and the new, modernity and tradition, at a time when the dilemma between the two worlds was shaking the foundations of animation studios. Did that mean the end of traditional drawings? For its director, one of the things that made Toy Story it was, in fact, the collaboration between traditionally trained animators and those who worked with computers. “Everyone will notice and comment that it is the first computer-animated film, but Computers are just tools, ”Lasseter defended then. They did not create this movie. It was created by people ”.

The universe of toys

Precisely, the magic of the saga created by Pixar lay in its ability to humanize toys without losing their identity. “If we made a movie about whales, we would talk about toys at break time or at lunchtime. We chose the most suitable subject to make a film ”, recognized the screenwriter Andrew Stanton.

For the first release, he, Lasseter and the rest of the team carefully studied each of the elements that would appear in the film, what materials they were made of and what their quality was, their prices and their defects. It was what shaped the personality of his characters and not the script. From the beginning they decided that Buzz, in tribute to astronaut Buzz Aldrin, had to be the toy that any child wanted to have. And Woody? Inspired by one of John Lasseter’s childhood dolls, an old ghost with more than 30 years old that emitted phrases when pulling his rope, his name was due to the legendary actor of Spartacus, Woody Strode, who starred in numerous westerns during the 1970s.

The rest of the protagonists were raised in a similar way. What would happen, they wondered, if your face fell apart every so often? Wouldn’t you have any reason to live angry at the world like Mr. Potato? Or, how can you be a fearsome dinosaur if you are made with low quality materials and the plastic seams are noticeable? It was about changing the perspective completely to try to make them recognizable and credible to the viewer. That effort made Peter Docter, one of the creatives responsible for the script, nail his shoes to a board and study its movements to try to reproduce the gestures that the little green plastic soldiers would make, whose feet were attached to a flat base, if of course. suddenly come to life. The result was one of the most accomplished sequences in the film.

TS2
Sid, Andy’s violent neighbor, in a scene from the movie

But, if the toys were the protagonists of this story, Who if not a child could be the enemy? Although at first Woody and Buzz were going to be antagonists, finally their friendship story left on the screen a disturbing villain: Sid, Andy’s neighbor who enjoyed torturing his dolls in his terrifying house decorated among other things with the Hoter Overlook carpet. in which the boy of The glow. “A lot of us destroyed our toys,” confessed Andrew Stanton, “and although in the movie Sid is a bad boy and treats his toys badly, it reflects in some way how we were.”

From smashing his own toys to building this ode of love. Done to detail — it took the screenwriters three years, for example, to make and redo the storyboards of the film – another peculiarity of Toy Story was the treatment of music and sound, so it was decided that each toy should have its own sound characteristics. Also, contrary to what happened in Disney movies, For Lasseter it was important that the music was not sung by its protagonists, a resource that was somewhat forced and artificial, and thought that the songs that Randy Newman composed for the film would fit better, such as the already famous There is a friend in me, which described the emotion of the moment in history.

The sequels to ‘Toy Story’

In November 1999, four years after the premiere of the first, Toy Story 2 hit theaters, becoming the first Pixar sequel. Although at first Disney wanted to release it directly in its home version, only distributed on video, John Lasseter convinced the studio to project it on the big screen. In January of that same year, filming began on what was the film with the shortest production time in Pixar’s history.. As a curiosity, the Mattel toy company that in 1995 had rejected the idea of ​​Barbie appearing in its predecessor, contacted its creators to include it on this occasion. That title, which continued with Woody’s adventures in an adventure in which the cowboy knew his origins and Buzz came to his rescue, it got even a better reception than the original, higher grossing and well received by the public and critics.

Over time, the success of Pixar toys was repeated with its two successor films, none of them directed by Lasseter, who gave control to Lee Unkrich in the third, released in June 2010, and to Josh Cooley in the fourth installment, already in 2019. With more than twenty years between the first and the last, to the expense of knowing whether or not there will be a fifth, the years have not gone in vain for these animation sagas, in which we have witnessed how their characters evolved And Andy was turning from a kid to a college student by the time we met Bonnie.

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‘Toy Story’, the Pixar toy turns 25

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