The Pixar Story
Directed by Leslie Iwerks, 2007
By Alyce Wilson
The Pixar Story traces the development of Pixar from its early days to the recent deal with Disney. The film is based primarily on interviews with key players, and it includes a lot of archival footage: home movies shot by the co-creators of Pixar, showing their process from a personal point-of-view. The film also makes good use of newspaper clippings, still photographs, drawings, and film clips.
Director Leslie Iwerks, whose grandfather, Ub Iwerks, was the co-creator of Mickey Mouse, nevertheless portrays the sometimes troubled relationship between Pixar and Disney with an even hand, including comments from players on both sides. The film chronicles the conflict between an established institution and a brash new creative upstart.
Ironically, the once-scorned 3D animation process grew so successful that just a few years ago, Disney dismissed many of their 2D artists. But the secret of Pixar's success lay in more than technique. This is illustrated by the creative process behind Toy Story 2.
Originally conceived as a direct-to-video sequel, Toy Story 2 then became slated for a theater release. Up until that point, it had been handled by a separate team, as the director of the first film, John Lasseter, was overseas on a promotional tour. When he returned and looked at the film, Lasseter realized the story line just wasn't working. He led an ambitious rewrite that produced an almost entirely new animated film. Because of that attention to story, the sequel did even better in the box office than the original and earned critical praise.
Ironically, the recent acquisition gave the Pixar founders prominent positions at Disney, and one of them now heads the animation departments of both Pixar and Disney. Hopefully, the creative minds behind Pixar will turn that same attention to 2D animation and revive that sadly neglected department at Disney.
Fans of animation will enjoy this comprehensive look at the creative and business decisions that led to Pixar's success.
Rating: *** (Good)