If you have not seen the film, The Good Dinosaur, this contains some spoilers. To get some context for this post, please check out : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1979388/
This weekend, I watched “The Good Dinosaur”, the latest Pixar film to be playing on the big screen. Based on the title and the endearing reactions that many students had of the film, I was expecting it to be full of lessons and emotionally attaching moments. (It was, I cried two times during the film). However, throughout the process, I questioned what audience this film was intended for. For many parts, The Good Dinosaur seemed like another cowboy film, in which the main character takes on a journey to surpass their fears and develop their true identity. This is a concept that is perceived as normal within American culture. Thus, this film is another beautifully done film with unconventional storytelling.
In the film, there were a few aspects aside from the journey towards a solidified identity, that seemed relevant or “normal” assuming American culture background of the audience. For one, the film itself takes place in Wyoming, a state with diverse geography and open skies, which is a good visual representation of the American West and its possibilities. The voice used by the characters also country-like, adding to the safe characteristics of this film. Another all too familiar aspect of Western culture is the rounding of a buffalo herd in large plains. In the film, this is the epitome of a job well done in reaching the ideal, developed character in any film.
All of these different scenes stuck out to me because, in a film about dinosaurs surviving long enough to live with humans, the film was based on a familiar culture – American culture. The plot line of the story itself is very familiar: a journey to find ourselves. With safe and quite familiar characters, this film was still watched by many. I wonder why Pixar was able to pull off this movie with a very basic plotline. Is it because American culture is closely tied to the concept of “making yourself”? Or, is it because this familiar story is what much of the audience knows best? I believe the basic format of this film has relied on the trust that Pixar has built by making feel good films with similar plotlines, speaking of the ease many folks find in watching films that re-tell the same story in superficially different formats. What does that say about the ideals that American culture continues to perpetuate?