Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The end of the Toy Story

(There's spoilers here) Toy Story has always been about loss and nostalgia. The life cycle of a toy is shown time and again as being from love to abandonment. In the first film Woody was replaced by Buzz, and in the second he started to feel his usefulness running out. The third film was always going to start at the end. Here the toys are concocting schemes to trick Andy into playing with them. This doesn't work, and as he's about to leave for 'college', they start thinking about their life in the attic. They eventually decide to send themselves to 'daycare', in the hope of being played with every day. Even though most of Toy Story 3 focuses on the prison break from this not-so-nice nursery, the heart of the film is really with the toys, and the decisions Andy will make. It's the end of a chapter, and about saying goodbye. Through an unfortunate chain of events they find themselves at the dump, confronted by what they fear most. They run along the conveyor belt of rubbish, battling desperately to stay alive. Before this they've been running around roads and airports, but now the fire of the incinerator ties up everything they've been running from the whole time. As they realise they're finished they let themselves slowly get pulled down towards the flame. I think it's fair to say this was the most traumatic thing I've ever seen in the cinema. It was not beyond this film to let them melt. They are, after all, only toys.

So why is this all so important? It's just a kid's film about toys isn't it? The thing is, Toy Story has perfectly captured childhood. These toys represent things you had as a child - things you lost or just can't find anymore. The death of the toys is the death of childhood. They're fighting to keep this time alive, but eventually, faced with the futile struggle against the fire, they resign to let it die. Maybe the younger audience won't get it. Not yet, anyway. Because Andy, the fool, grows up and gives his toys away. He doesn't put them in the attic to try and preserve them. He gives them to another child so that the cycle can repeat all over again. The life of a toy, and the childhood that goes with it, will always be finite.


  1. I wept copiously under my 3D glasses during the inferno scene. The bit where they all held hands!
    A superb film; I laughed, cried and thought. What more can etc?

  2. "I think it's fair to say this was the most traumatic thing I've ever seen in the cinema."

    I am so glad you agree!! i was sobbing, certain they were going to melt. You know the moment when you think, "No, they wouldn't do that....Oh, God. It would make sense if they did that. They totally could." I broke down like a child seeing my favorite animated toys going toward the fire, holding hands, ready to meet their end.