The Epic Hero’s Cycle and Up
The 2009 Disney film Up is about Mr. Frederickson’s long anticipated journey for adventure. As a young boy, Carl Frederickson idolizes the famous explorer, Charles Muntz. He enjoys spending most of his time watching documentaries and researching Muntz’s latest expeditions. On his way home from watching the latest documentary, Carl meets a buoyant young girl named Ellie, who is ardent about the same explorer as well. They both immediately share a connection upon their first encounter; their thirst for adventure keeps them together for a long time. As the two grow older, Carl and Ellie marry each other and build their own house together. They keep one special promise: to save up enough money to go to Paradise Falls in South America one day, together. Old age inevitably looms into their lives and tragedy strikes when Ellie becomes ill. Unfortunately, she passes away, leaving Mr. Frederickson a lonely, depressed, old man. After analyzing the events that occur from this point of the movie to the ending credits, one realizes the movie may be applied to Joseph Campbell’s Epic Hero Cycle.
Carl Frederickson now lives an organized, prosaic life in the same house he built with Ellie. His constant mundane routine has never been interrupted until the government enforced industrialization in his neighborhood. Construction workers collaborating on an edifice next door had accidentally wrecked Carl’s mailbox he and Ellie made when they had just finished constructing their new house. Mr. Frederickson impulsively hits the construction worker on the head with his cane, which he later goes to court for being accused of a “public menace” (Up). The court acceded to evict Carl from his home, giving him a few days to pack his bags because he was to be sent to Shady Oaks Nursing Home. The eviction is the event in the film which acts as the summons to bring Carl from his boring ordinary world into a new and exciting one. Carl contrives an escape plan; he ties an abundant amount of balloons to his house in hopes that they will let the house act as a blimp. His plan succeeds as he embarks on his journey to Paradise Falls.
Just as Mr. Frederickson had begun to get accustomed to the flying house, he hears a knock on his door. When Carl opens the doors, Russell, the Wilderness Explorer who he had met before, is holding onto the house for dear life. Russell is an innocent eight year old boy who has done comprehensive studies on the wilderness; he has read every manual and book there is that teaches about the wilderness. Though, he has never actually experienced the wilderness before in his life. Instead of the typical elderly and wise mentor in the Hero’s Cycle, Up introduces a character who is essentially the opposite. Russell still exhibits the role as a mentor who aids Carl; he incessantly reminds Carl that he must obtain his “helping the elderly badge” in order to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer (Up). Since Russell benefits from assisting Carl, he is more enthusiastic and persistent in aiding him. Also, Russell is constantly getting them out of dangerous situations and he always has to share some piece of knowledge about the wilderness. “I know that cloud, it’s a cumulus nimbus. Did you know that in a cumulus nimbus, the cold air and the warm air collide with each other…and that’s how we get lightening” is a quote Russell says right before he saves both of their lives from a deadly thunderstorm (Up). The thunderstorm nearly killed Carl and Russell; it spun the house around continuously, as several pieces of furniture were being destroyed. At the same time, the thunderstorm acts as a catalyst for Mr. Frederickson to arrive at the beginning of his adventure in Paradise Falls, thus crossing the threshold. Once he steps onto the South American ground and sees the Falls for the first time, Mr. Frederickson is now in a whole new different world. After failing at attempting to re-enter the floating house,...
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