After watching Up I couldn’t help but imagine if the filmmakers were directly influenced by Buddhism. The one scene that hinted at this the most is where Carl empties his house, leaving behind all of the possessions in his house, in order follow the boy Russel. To me this echos the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths which are central to the teachings of Buddhism.
From the Wikipedia article on Buddhism, subset The Four Noble Truths:
According to the Pali Tipitaka36 and the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha’s teachings:
1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
2. Suffering is caused by craving. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.
When we first met Carl Fredricksen we see his life has been a constant cycle of promise, happiness, disappointment, and finally remorse. The child Russel is pudgy, Asian, and dressed in yellow the Buddhist symbol for desirelessness, humility, and detachment from the material world (the kid is very absentminded). It is not difficult to see him symbolizing Buddha. When Carl finally empties his house in order to follow Russel (Buddha) he leaves behind all remnants of his past life. The most prominent symbol of his attachment to delusion the picture of his wife, which he talked to as if she were still alive. It is through “emptiness” that Carl is able to rise above the material world and and achieve true meaning in his life.
It would be interesting to learn that the creators of this film had these ideas in mind. Parts of this film are very beautiful in the way described by this philosophy, but there’s also something universal about giving away one’s possessions at or near the time of one’s death, which is really where Carl was headed all along.
Funny—at the exact time you were writing this, I was posting this to my facebook page:
30 Day Movie Challenge:
Day 23: Movie that inspires you – Why Has Bodhi Dharma Left for the East? (Yong-Kyun Bae)
Inspiration for much more than film.
Now there’s a film that does what the OP suggests.
Thanks for the indicators. It may have Buddhist underpinnings, but did it really have to go for the usual violent rollercoaster ride? Such a pity. The Lion King suffered from similar.
I just watched this film this morning, I’m a bit late but I think I watched it at the perfect time as I saw Buddhist philosophy through the whole thing. I completely agree about Carl emptying his house. I’ve only been studying Buddhist for a little over a year but I have rarely seen a film that spoke to me that strongly about the Four Noble Truths. I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw it as well!
I consider myself well versed in Buddhism, so I will be on the lookout on this. It does sound a bit schematic.