Movies have become for our tech-saturated Century what sitting around a fire telling stories meant for other times. Stories about where we have been and where we will go, templates for what we face and indicators of possibilities. Big Hero 6 does all of the above by placing some of the more daunting questions we face with regard to our future, front and center in a very believable near future.
San Fransokyo is a lovely visual mix of all that is best of the West Coast/Asian Pacific seaboard. Asia meets the West and they waltz into the future holding hands. The Golden Gate Bridge has Pagoda wings and the suburbs are filled with cherry blossoms, the sky line is peppered with Miyazaki-esque wind turbines and the villain wears a Kabuki mask.
Did anyone else notice how much this movie owed to the great Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli? I know the banner claims this one for Disney but in my minds eye I kept picturing the refugee artists and animators decamping from the breakup of S.G. to put their indelible aesthetic stamp on this movie. The lush and painterly environments, the glorious skies. The scene of Hero and Baymax sitting atop a wind turbine gazing into the sunset could have been cut straight out of a Miyazaki movie without any suspension of belief. The way that the two dimensional anime’ characters move through their three dimensional world and we accept it, the subtle layering of the plot-line with the humorous riding cheek by jowl with the dramatic and tragically human. The range of characterization, the good the bad and the comically weird, these are all things we’ve seen S.G. weave into a recognizable style over the years.
I am delighted to see it become a sort of trans-cultural gold standard for Animation. What Disney lost after Fantasia seems to be coming back around.
Also, in the best tradition of S.G. this movie left me feeling that there might be hope for a whole planet future.
It’s a, “growing up tale'', but not in the singular, Joseph Campbell hero's journey sense of the phrase. Its not about one hero, but several, interlinked heroes. It reminded me of the African proverb; If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. It’s a lesson we all need to learn, viscerally, if we are to survive our very human limitations.
Its about human fallibility and what we will do with artificial intelligence, about our frailty and mortality and record keeping. About the arc of one small life ‘s intention into the future through how we touch each other emotionally and intersect as community. Its about what happens when you touch one corner of the web and it resonates in another.
It’s a story as old as mankind and not the first time its been told, just never before in this context.
Unexpectedly, it left me feeling that the future might be in good hands.