The most iconic scene in this movie or maybe even in Pixar history, is where we need to start. The one that breaks your heart and makes you wipe away those tears even though you promised you wouldn’t cry while watching a Pixar movie. Yes that opening montage of Carl and Ellie’s life together and how it slowly falls apart for Carl when she passes away. Not a word is spoken, but the bond and love that they have is so clear.
Carl was a lonely child who never really had friends until he met Ellie. She was the complete opposite of him where Carl was shy Ellie was outgoing but it worked. They instantly clicked as friends and soon became spouses. Ellie was Carl’s Everything and they spent their lives happily together waiting for the day they could finally live out their dream of going to Paradise Falls ,as seen in the video. Sadly as soon as they were about to go Ellie passes away. After her death Carl is alone , and broken down since Ellie was all he had. Losing a spouse is a very tough thing to go through but especially in old age as it has many negative effects on the person. In Death Studies, Difficulties accepting the loss of a Spouse: a precursor for intensified grieving among widowed older adults states that “studies have shown that the loss of a loved one can have a profoundly negative impact on the lives of the 10%–20% of individuals who show a severe and chronic grief reaction (Prigerson,Vanderwerker, & Maciejewski, 2008)”.For example, Ellie had breathed life and happiness into Carl and Since her death he had lost all of that and throughout the movie still grieving her. This leaves a very negative impact on him making him very grouchy and antisocial to the rest of the world. Death studies also says” in the case of bereavement, many places, objects, and people in the bereaved’s day-to-day life are likely to be strongly tied with the deceased, so that they represent potential triggers of involuntary and distressful thoughts and memories (Ehlers, 2006).” Here it is describing how objects, places or people can trigger memories or strong emotions of the deceased to the living. For Carl it’s the house he and Ellie lived in. It was all the memories they had in there along with her pictures and the painting of Paradise Falls above their fireplace. Carl is very protective of these things because they remind him of her and the life they had together. Therefore, he takes his entire house to Paradise Falls so it can feel like he is taking Ellie with him. Now Carl’s life is about to change when he meets Russell.
Russell shows up one day at Carl’s house trying to earn his ” assisting the elderly badge” for Boy Scouts. Carl is uninterested in helping Russell and forces him to leave him alone, but Russell doesn’t listen and keeps coming back. When Carl decides to fly into the sky Russell is accidentally stuck on his porch and comes along for the ride. Carl, Still grieving from Ellie is reluctant to be friendly towards Russell and tries to ignore him, until they get into some tough situations. When they land in South America they have to figure out how to get the house to Paradise Falls, battle the wildlife, defeat Charles Muntz and his pack of dogs, save Kevin and make it back home safely. Through these situations Carl opens up and bonds with Russell. These inter-generational relationships are very important in both the younger and older persons life. Communication reports -The Pragmatics of Intergenerational Friendships states ” based on the importance of friendship as a predictor of psychological well-being among the elderly, intergenerational friendships may play a unique role for both the elderly individual and the younger individual.” In light of this, the friendship between the two of them is not only healthy emotional but psychologically. Both Carl and Russell give each other what they had lost by the loss of a spouse and a father. When Carl started to bond with Russell he began to to be a kinder, and an over all happier person. Russell becoming Carls friend filled the empty void that Carl had when he lost Ellie. It also helped him open himself up to the world and love again. Not only was this friendship beneficial for Carl but it also benefited Russell. As we learn at the end of the movie that Russell does not have a father, or that his father is missing, so when he goes to Carls house to try and help him he instantly considered him a friend. Therefore, as their friendship grew Russell saw Carl as his father figure, or grandfather. Carl filled the empty void of a father to Russell by being there for him, as a friend and an adult figure. For example, at the end of the movie Russel has his Boy Scout celebration where they receive their badges, all of the other kids are being given them by their fathers but Russell is all alone.Russell is depressed that he is the only one without a father their to support him and give him his badge, until Carl shows up and takes the badge to gave to Russell. This inter-generational relationship benefited both Carl and Russell by filling the emotional voids that they each had. Russell, filling the emotional support and friend that Carl needed by being there for him and being kind to him when others weren’t. Finally, Carl filled the void of the father/adult figure to support and watch over Russell that he was missing from his absent father.