When it was released in 2009, "Up" was acclaimed as one of Disney-Pixar’s greatest achievements. The first 10 minutes could have stood alone as its own short film. These few scenes took audiences on an emotional roller coaster from light-hearted fun to inspiring love to tragic loss. As shocked as people were by this unexpected start to what seemed to be a light-hearted movie, they loved it all the same for its raw emotion and touching message. Ellie and Carl showed us what the good life really looks like, warts and all. Here are 10 lessons we should all take away from this deepest of Disney moments.
1. The best lovers were friends first.
This is a refreshingly realistic departure from Disney’s usual model of love at first sight. Ellie and Carl were friends from the very beginning. They didn’t fall for each other in one momentary wave of passion. Carl didn’t pursue an evasive Ellie until she conceded and agreed to marry him. Ellie didn’t fawn over Carl as a Prince Charming. They were childhood buddies, and this strong friendship kept then together until the very end.
2. Not everyone finds their fulfillment in a “conventional” family model.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching moment in the first part of "Up" was the scene of Carl and Ellie in the doctor's office implying their discovery that Ellie was unable to have children. However, this was not the end of their happy life together by any means. They found comfort in each other and learned to grow their love every day. I don’t think anyone could say in the end that there was anything missing from Ellie and Carl’s marriage.
3. In a strong marriage, spouses always find new ways to surprise each other.
Carl never forgot Ellie’s dream of traveling to Paradise Falls. Although they were old and Ellie had by then given up on that dream, Carl wouldn’t let the idea die. He goes out and plans the trip for him and Ellie to have one last great adventure together.
4. Only by stepping outside your comfort zone can you grow as a person.
Ellie pushes Carl to be adventurous, serendipitous, and quirky, qualities he never would have developed alone. Yes, her persuasion was the reason he fell two stories and broke his arm as a child, but he was no worse for wear in the long run.
5. Sometimes real life gets in the way of your lofty dreams, and that’s okay.
Carl and Ellie decided to set a new goal for themselves once they came to terms with the fact that children would not be a part of their marriage. They wanted to save enough money to travel to South America and see Paradise Falls, following in the footsteps of their hero Charles Muntz. However, they never are able to save enough. Real-life problems like a tree through the roof or Carl’s broken leg force them to dip into their rainy day fund, but this lofty goal of Paradise Falls gives them hope and brings them together.
6. The simplest things can carry the deepest meanings.
Ellie pinned a grape soda bottle cap to Carl’s shirt in the very beginning of the film, showing he was part of her very exclusive club. Carl kept this simple token as a symbol of his and Ellie’s love. It was a wedding ring of cheap steel instead of gold. Even when Ellie herself left Carl, the bottle cap pin remained.
7. In a good relationship, one person brings out the best in the other.
Only a person as special as Ellie would be able to bring Carl out of his shell like she did. Carl would only grow and change in the way he did because he really loved Ellie and wanted to make her happy.
8. Things don’t make a good life, experiences do.
Ellie and Carl lived simple yet beautiful lives. They were by no means rich; Ellie worked as a zoo keeper, and Carl was a balloon salesman. They didn’t live in a mansion. They didn’t go on dates to fancy restaurants. They found joy simply being with each other. Simply lying on a blanket in the park watching the clouds roll by was enough for them.
9. Common passions can bring even the most conflicting personalities together.
Timid Carl and boisterous Ellie first found common ground in their love for the great adventurer Charles Muntz. This simple icebreaker was an underlying theme to their whole relationship. Two people who may never have hit it off had the opportunity to develop a deep relationship because of one simple link.
10. Saying goodbye is the hardest thing you could ever do.
There’s a reason one spouse calls their partner “my other half.” Your significant other is more than a person you spend time with or with whom you share a physical relationship. They’re part of you, and once they’re gone, life can never be the same way again. Yes, it is important to eventually move on, but there is no replacing that person who made your life worth living.