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A Reflection on The Movie Inside Out

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Inside out is a 2015 animated comedy-drama film that was directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Ronnie del Carmen and Produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The film was planned in 2010 when Docter noticed changes in his daughter’s personality as she grew older. The film revolves around the mind of an 11 years old named Riley who has a wonderful life until her family moves to a new city and her emotions start to go out of control. We are introduced to 5 main emotions who are portrayed as characters; Joy a bubbly, positive, energetic individual that everyone wants to be around. Secondly, Sadness, she’s glum, boring and pessimistic, and then we have Disgust, she’s like the cool kid, judgemental, socially wary. Fear, He’s constantly worrying, jumpy and irrational and lastly Anger, he is harsh and hot-tempered. The film’s producers consulted numerous psychologists and scientists who studied emotions. The 5 emotions that were the most commonly agreed on were the ones that made the final cut for the film. Doctor realised that as one grew older he would gain newer emotions, he portrayed this transition from baby Riley who had only two emotions sadness and joy but as she became 11 she gained other emotions such as disgust, anger and fear. 

The overall theme of this movie is “happiness is not just about joy”. Just like the Chinese philosophy; yin and yang that suggests that in every good there is bad and in every bad, there is some good. Even though these forces seem opposite they are complimentary and give rise to each other and are interrelated to one another. Similarly, Sadness and joy go hand in hand. For us to truly feel happiness we must embrace the emotion of sadness instead of shying away from it. Initially, they portrayed how Joy wanted Riley to be happy all the time and rarely let sadness take over the console even when it was necessary but as the film goes on Joy understands the importance of Sadness and at the end they take charge of Riley’s emotions together creating a hybrid memory of happy and sad and as I’d like to call it bittersweet memories. When Joy wanted Riley to constantly be happy even when times were tough she made Riley temporarily happy however whenever she was not controlling the console all Riley felt was empty and numb showing how Riley was truly sad and missed her old hometown and friends. Maybe all she needed was to cry and let her parents know how she felt instead of bottling it up and trying to be happy all the time. We have all shed tears before and somehow after crying, we feel much better, why? That’s because “tears contain leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller, which may be a factor to why you feel better after a good cry.” Therefore, at the end of the show when Riley cries in the arms of her parents she instantly smiles and feels comforted. If she was allowed to feel the emotion of sadness earlier perhaps it would have prevented her from all those painful days and the scary thought of running away from home. 

The film truly showed that as much as joy is important in our lives sadness is equally vital. I chose this film as this was one of the few animated films that really had an impact on me and had me thinking deeper about concepts like “why do I feel what I feel?” and how to respond and react to different situations. Sometimes animated films have a disadvantage in portraying concepts because they tend to look childish and are not taken seriously. However, Inside Out was a film that was well thought out and the makers truly gave attention to detail which is why it became to a movie it was, relatable. 

Similarly, when Riley went through all those emotions, I was going through it too and seeing it on the screen helped me manage my emotions and realise that it’s ok to be sad and it’s ok to cry in order for me to move on. The film sheds a light on so many interesting concepts the first being that we have so many memory bubbles of various emotions and once they are not visited they fade away and are permanently erased from our memories and replaced by newer memories. Second being that all of us have different personality traits which were represented as islands in the movie that make us who we are; for example, Riley had the friendship, family, goofy and honesty island when she was 11 and as she grew older she gained more personality traits. We all change as we grow older, I know I have, I’m sure you have too. When I was younger I was very outgoing and bubbly but as I became 12 I lost that sense of spontaneity and openness because of my friend circle but regained it as I became 15. Riley became less goofy and dishonest when she was unhappy, We all have our experiences that alter our personalities. As all the five emotions were personified, the film reflects how different personalities are treated.

In today’s society, depressed individuals are often rejected and mocked while positive individuals are celebrated. For example, Joy was bubbly, positive and a leader so everyone looked up to her and believed she was the only one who could take charge and knew what was best for Riley. Being positive made others have a positive impression of her. On the other hand, Sadness was often rejected by the rest and since she was so pessimistic and always thought of the worst, no one believed in her and her capabilities which is why she became even more depressed than she already was. As terrible as it sounds it is true, “happy people want to be with happy people while unhappy people attract unhappy people and do misery together”. As much as people should make an effort to help these unhappy individuals, the fact is that you are responsible for your own happiness and like the saying goes “No one can help you if you can’t help yourself”. It has to work both ways, society needs to help these individuals be understood and these individuals need to make an effort to find happiness themselves. The director wanted to convey how human sentiments influences and changes relationships. When Riley was unhappy and disturbed it affected her relationship with her parents and her best friend. She became distant, dishonest and rude towards her parents along with being jealous and angry with her friend which caused them to drift apart. This shows how negative emotions between two individuals can cause a rift. The director also wanted to encourage viewers to take the time to understand behavioural patterns of those around them.

As everyone is wired differently we learn why people behave a certain way only after studying and understanding them which helps us communicate and form better bonds with those around us. According to Leo Barraclough 2015, “the film was made to have a differentiation between real world and human world even though both were animated”. The real world had imperfections that were made with the help of lense distortion which added texture to the film, while the mind aka human world was imaginary which was perfect and virtual.

The colour palette of the film played an important role in the costume and makeup of the characters as all the emotions were made in colours that are associated with evoking those sentiments; ie; Joy was yellow which screamed happy, vibrant and cheerful. Sadness was blue from top to bottom which showed how she was feeling blue. Green was associated with disgust and red with anger. The makers used scaling of camera to show Riley’s perspective and growth which made it more engaging and real for viewers. Throughout the movie the lighting is bright for most of it to create a positive setup except for the part when Riley was running away from home, the makers edited it to have a gloomy and dull lighting to show the change of emotion. It is fair enough to say that their animations and techniques made this movie likeable not only for kids but for adults as well. 

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A Reflection On The Movie Inside Out. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from
“A Reflection On The Movie Inside Out.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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