First Look: Pete Docter Reveals More on Pixar's Up

July 30, 2008
Source: Flickr, Animation World Magazine

Pixar's Up

Although we already wrote about the panel at Comic-Con for Pixar's Up, most people still don't seem to know what it's really about. Thankfully two exciting updates have arrived that will hopefully help clear up some of the confusion or at least capture the internet a few more people. First, a rogue attendee at the panel took some photos of the presentation and uploaded them to their Flickr. Second, the guys at Animation World Magazine caught up with Pete Docter, the writer and director of Up, and asked him some basic questions about the film and the story. We've combined these two updates to give you a more comprehensive look at what we can expect from Pixar's 2009 feature film and the story within.

As we mentioned in the previous article, Up is about a 78-year-old grumpy old man named Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner), a short and square little man who walks with a cane. He is joined by an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell who needs one last merit badge - assisting the elderly. When Carl was young, he met a girl named Ellie and eventually married her; it was her dream to visit Paradise Falls in Venezuela, but that dream never came true before she passed away. Now Carl is a widower and former balloon salesman and he decides to leave his home using balloons to travel to Venezuela to live out that dream. To be honest, no one really knows what takes place once Carl and Russell land in Venezuela, as they'll encounter various creatures and other fascinating things, but this is the best introduction so far.

Up's Carl and Russell

During the panel, Docter explained that his inspiration for the story in Up came from his correspondence with Disney legends Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston as a young animator, as well as the fascinating life stories the elderly often tell when you take the opportunity to spend some time with them. He decided to set most of the film in the isolated region of the Tepui Mountains in Venezuela (as seen below). Docter told AWM that the challenge with this film has been figuring out "where reality stops and fantasy starts." He continues on about the setting, saying that "a large part of this film takes place in this jungle of South America, these amazing Tepui tabletop mountains. And these really exist, but most people haven't heard of them. We still want the sense that this takes place in the real world…"

All that we were shown at Comic-Con was a video outlining the development of this project that included some concept art (including the scene at the very top), some aerial shots of the Tepui region, and some early animation of Carl and Russell. Additionally, we were shown a scene where retirement home "agents" come to take Carl away and he sneaks inside and finally releases the balloons and floats up into the sky. As he's floating away, he goes to take an afternoon nap and we hear a knock on his front door - at 10,000 feet in the air. It turns out to be the aforementioned Russell, but the scene ended before we got to see his introduction. As Docter explains, "[Carl is] stuck in his ways - this is the way I like things. He has the same breakfast for the last 50 years, he has the same schedule. And so everything that happens disrupts him."

While the scenes that we were shown didn't truly have that magical Pixar feel yet, I think once we get further into the story and see more, we'll get to that point. Whenever I think of Up, I can't help but remind myself that the guy who is doing this also brought us Monsters Inc, which I often refer to as my own favorite Pixar movie. And if you imagine a beautiful score from Michael Giacchino (who also did Ratatouille) overlaid on top of a heartwarming story about a grumpy old man who is finally living out his life's dream in memory of his wife by venturing into the beautiful mountains of Venezuela, then you might start to see some of that Pixar magic coming to life. Until we see more, enjoy this brief intro to Pixar's Up.

Tepui Mountains

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Reader Feedback - 14 Comments


yes, pixar is the best. up looks awesome, and wall-e was really good

sean on Jul 30, 2008


Since you guys didn't link to TPB (no hard feelings 🙂 I thought I'd comment here to point out that there are a couple more pics from SD Comic-Con that I posted this afternoon at

Mike B. on Jul 30, 2008



Mike B. on Jul 30, 2008


It doesn't even need to be said, but this will be a good movie. Don't even pretend that it won't be. Everything about this movie seems delightful.

DCompose on Jul 30, 2008


everything about this says Hayao Miyazaki to me.

duffc on Jul 30, 2008


Even though its about an old guy, it has Ed Asner in it. I love his voice, and Pixar hasn't really failed me. I did like Cars or A bugs life to much, but they were decent. So, Pixar should have a win with this as well. I don't think it'll sell action figures, but it'll do.

Jesse on Jul 31, 2008


IS THAT KID ASIAN?!?!? Now that's a first!

heath on Jul 31, 2008


Is that a real waterfall or animation?

Xl on Jul 31, 2008


No, that's a real waterfall - it's a real photo of the Tepui region.

Alex Billington on Jul 31, 2008


Haha #6. This actually sounds real funny.

Ryan on Jul 31, 2008


Theres something about this movie that just seems to lighten the mood.. just a tad 😀

Carlos on Jul 31, 2008


I'm not sold. I don't know what else I have to be to be sold. But right now this looks sketchy to me.

Icarus on Jul 31, 2008


i'm sold! i'm form venezuela! hehe

edison on Aug 1, 2008


I love Pixar, I was sold when I saw that it was from them. I just hope that they have a funny short before the movie.

Scott on Jan 22, 2009

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