Watch this clip before reading. Warning: If you're at work, be careful. If you focus and pay attention to this clip, I'm pretty sure you're going to have a few tears rolling down your face by the end.
I mentioned meeting +Trey Ratcliff
in a post a few days ago: http://bit.ly/ruQQrf
. We talked about many subjects (I think our conversation ran about 10.5 hours). One topic that came up was "micro expressions" -- extremely brief facial expressions (lasting as little as 1/25th of a second). An expression that brief could actually be missed by standard 30 frame per second (fps) film. At 30 fps, you may be missing key signifiers & moments from your favorite actors, because the technology is not sufficient to capture the full range of human motion (and thus e-motion). Interesting if you think about it.
Trey theorized that this was the reason why human interaction is where we experience the most powerful emotions. I'm sure you can think of 10 other reasons why interacting with each other is more emotive than watching movies (though the reasons might be more what we'd want to believe than what may be "true"). But that said, I immediately thought the "opposite": that some of my most powerful emotional memories were from watching films, and not from interactions in person.
Is this because an animator can overcome the technology hurdle that hides "micro expressions"? That the animator can make sure we read the range of emotion in their characters by simply insuring they're on the screen for us to see? I don't think so, but it's interesting to think about.
For me, I think animations can be so powerful for the same reason we can be so emotionally affected by animals. It's hard to be cynical about an animal. We assume their souls are pure. When I empathize with an animated character that's portrayed as good, I think my mind adopts this anti-cynical approach. Since the animated character is not human, somehow the character becomes "more" human. The character is idealized and his motives seem entirely pure. There's no part of me that doubts his sincerity, or integrity. This is really hard to do with live action actors, or in real life. There may always be a little bit of "doubt" in the viewer.
This, I'd submit, is why these 4 minutes from Up is one of the most powerful moments in film I've ever seen. If you filmed this segment with human actors, the idealized, pure portrait of the characters love would be sullied by what we humans really are: self-interested, complicated, and sometimes not so nice.