Sometime last year, I went to see the new Disney film Inside Out in the cinema with my brother. We both love Disney, and so were excited to see their latest creation. It could be nothing but fabulous, right? From trailers and promos that I had seen I was expecting to see a happy go lucky film, full of joy (haha, Joy, okay…) and some sort of moral undertone. That’s what you normally think of when a new Disney film is released.
But oh my, I was not expecting to spend the majority of the film crying my eyes out. I absolutely balled the whole time, much to the embarrassment of my younger brother. I know I wasn’t the only one who cried a lot, as I have been told by quite a few people that it affected them as well and I know that the message is practically universal as many people can identify with the characters in it. Or, at least, the main character, Riley.
Riley is an 11-year-old girl from Minnesota. She loves playing hockey, she has the best friends in the world and her family are great. She’s always had a happy life. She’s always been comfortable. Joy has dominated her emotions and there has been little Sadness in her life.
But then her parents tell her that they will be moving to San Francisco. Riley has to leave everything she knows behind: her friends, her school, her hockey team, her childhood home. Everything. In short, her life is flipped upside down. This is an experience I identify with a lot and that I know many other people do too. I already felt very connected to the character and I wanted her to be okay, knowing how difficult something like that can be.
My heartstrings were ready to be pulled.
The rest of the film follows Riley as her life transitions. We see how her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear) react to this upheaval and we, therefore, learn a lot about her mental state.
From being steady and reliable, her emotions are now in chaos. Sadness and Joy get sucked out of ‘headquarters’ and are lost to Riley. She no longer feels happiness or sadness - only Disgust, Anger and Fear.
Riley’s mental health steadily deteriorates, as her personality ‘islands’ - the things in her life that make her her - fall apart around her. She struggles to communicate her feelings to her parents as Sadness is missing. Sadness: who is shown to be the call for help, which, in turn, would put her onto the path of recovery.
This film is Disney’s way of depicting mental illness and spreading awareness. Such a massive company, known for its huge following, spreading awareness for an issue that has been widely overlooked until recently. That’s amazing. Particularly when you consider the fact that a lot of young kids will be watching this film and taking in its message. It will help them understand the importance of mental health better and teach them that feelings are better not bottled up.
Inside Out doesn’t just teach kids (and adults) about mental health, though. It also shows them some valuable lessons about life. Such as, it’s okay to let things go and to leave elements of your childhood behind. This is provided through Bing Bong (Riley’s imaginary friend), as well as many other childhood memories, being forgotten.
There are so many things that can be taken from this film, I could honestly go on for ages. I think everyone interprets it differently too. There’s probably tonnes of stuff I haven’t picked up on, but you find to be extremely important.
Please let me know if you think there’s something big you think I’ve missed - I would genuinely love to know!