Thursday, 27 April 2017

Finding Nemo (2003)

Fig 1 - Finding Nemo Poster
Finding Nemo is the fifth feature-length production from Disney Pixar and follows the journey of a clown fish in search of his son. Nemo (Alexander Gould) is the lone survivor of a barracuda attack that took his mother and unborn siblings, making his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) extremely over-protective of him. On his first day of school, Nemo is captured by divers which leads Marlin to desperately chase down the boat that took him. In doing so, Marlin meets Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) who attempts to help him in his search, despite a severe short-term memory problem. As Dory and Marlin venture across the ocean in search of "P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney" (an address that will be second-nature to you by the end), Nemo finds himself trapped within the fish tank of a dentist's office and soon learns that a grim fate awaits him if he doesn't try to escape...

The film won Pixar it's first 'Best Animated Feature' award at the Oscars in 2004 and eventually became the best-selling DVD of all-time. All of which comes as no surprise to me, as the film is truly one of Pixar's greatest.

There is an episode of Futurama (1999-2013) entitled "Godfellas" in which a deity-like 'space cloud' ends the episode by saying "When you do things right, people won't be sure you did anything at all". I think about this quote a lot, particularly in the case of editing which can so easily become the detriment of an otherwise decent film. The quote feels particularly pertinent to the ease with which Finding Nemo plays out, as the foreign world and unusual gravity of marine life are so effortlessly exhibited here. In the documentary 'Making Nemo' it is shown just how in-depth the team at Pixar went to make the aquatic landscapes and wildlife authentic. More than anything, the doc outlines how crucial it was to imitate the various lighting techniques of subterranean atmospheres and even more so, to animate fish in a fluid and naturalistic way. Without this extensive research, the film would never have captured the true beauty of the ocean depths and for that reason alone deserves all of the acclaim it received.

Fig 2 - Finding Nemo - Dory and Marlin
I hadn't seen Finding Nemo for some time before today, though having watched many of Pixar's works recently I was surprised at just how creepy some parts were comparatively. For instance, Inside Out (2015) features very few characters to be truly fearful of (unless you have a phobia of clowns, I suppose). However, in merely featuring depictions of shark and anglerfish attacks, the film becomes incredibly more tense than I remembered. This, in conjunction with the opening scene in which a looming barracuda proves just how unrelenting the food-chain can be, shows how dark Pixar are willing to go and makes the film one of their most deceptively tense.

Saying that, the film is actually full of sweetness and manages to give it's many characters enough dimension to find something to like in all of them. For my money, Ellen DeGeneres as Dory stands to be one of the best elements of the film. Unlike the relentless positivity of Inside Out's 'Joy', Dory comes across as naive in her vulnerability and makes up for what could have been 'annoying' optimism with the crutch of her memory affliction and it's genuinely humorous consequences. She alone has some of the best dialogue in the film and instantly rubbed off on popular culture in her efforts to "just keep swimming".

Overall, Finding Nemo is a timeless tale of devotion and emotion that has aged incredibly well animation-wise. With great voice talents and impeccable attention to detail, the film takes paternal dedication to another level and will either leave you itching to explore the briny depths or at least roll up your trousers for a paddle.


Fig. 1 Finding Nemo Poster (2003) From: Finding Nemo - Directed by: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich

Fig. 2 Finding Nemo Screenshot (2003) From: Finding Nemo - Directed by: Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich

'Making Nemo' Documentary

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