Adventure has become the leitmotif of my life. From father-and-son expedition to individual backpacking, from package tour to DIY, I’m still seeking the most suitable way of travelling, with such elements as climbing, photographing and sharing. Yes, I do enjoy sharing, not necessarily with a whole-trip companion, but with any passer-by, in front of whom I can discard my poker-faced mask for the office and appear humorous and considerate in a short talk for curiosity sake, you know, just scratching the surface and without any thinking of business opportunity or ascendency. On the other hand, soliloquy among ‘plum wives and crane sons’ isn’t in the least self-relieving and spirit-cleansing, and I don’t wanna deceive myself.
In the best part of a decade, I’ve been in quest of the answer from virtual and real heroes: Despite his unbridled personality, stunning hair and unequalled prowess, Tristan in ‘Legends of the Fall’ isn’t qualified to be an adventurer, for a bona fide adventurer should be more than self-reliant. He always tries to be responsible, but never in the correct way. His untimely affection for Susannah—-perilous taboo for an adventurer—-casts a cloud upon the whole family, and his departure, with dual intentions of showing respect for his late brother and ‘assisting’ Susannah to overcome the ‘immoral’ love, only brings about a serious of tragedies and accrues his suffering. Adventure has thus degraded into a way of eluding from a penchant or belief, and perhaps the belly of a bear is his best destination; Yu Chunshun, an out-and-out hombre as Yu Qiuyu observed, reveres adventure as his destiny, his power, his curse. He’s the idol of all Shanghaiese, yet by adoring we don’t mean following his footsteps. I’m certain that priceless wealth is in him, and that he’s my idol, but I haven’t the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room. Now without further ado, let’s take a look at an old man whose plan of adventure with his beloved has ever been postponed by domestic cares and trivial businesses, and is finally turned into gold in his last Indian-summer years.
Carl Fredricksen, a shy and quiet young boy, meets an energetic and outgoing tomboy named Ellie, discovering they share the same interest in exploration as their hero, the famed explorer Charles F. Muntz. Ellie tells Carl of her desire to move her clubhouse to Paradise Falls in South America, and makes Carl promise to help. Carl and Ellie wed and grow old together in the old house where they first met while making a living as a toy balloon vendor and a zookeeper respectively. Unable to have children, they repeatedly try to save up for the trip to Paradise Falls, but other financial obligations arise. Just as they’re finally about to take their trip, Ellie passes away, leaving Carl a lonely and bitter old man with nothing to live for and missing his wife terribly. These scenes, altering quickly without any conversation, epitomize the fleeting time. Sometimes silence means more than words.
As the years pass, the city grows around Carl’s house with construction as Carl refuses to move. After a tussle with a construction worker over Carl’s broken mailbox, the court orders Carl to move into a retirement home. Carl comes up with a scheme to keep his promise to Ellie, and uses his old professional supplies to create a makeshift airship using tens of thousands of helium balloons that lift his house off its foundations. Russell, a Wilderness Explorer trying to earn his final merit badge for ‘Assisting the Elderly’, has stowed away on the porch after being sent on a snipe hunt by Carl the day before.
After a storm throws them around for a while, they find themselves landing on a great plateau across a large ravine facing Paradise Falls. With their body weight providing ballast allowing Carl and Russell to pull the floating house, the two begin to walk around the ravine, hoping to reach the falls while there’s still enough helium in the balloons to keep the house afloat. As they walk towards Paradise Falls, Russell finds a colorful tropical flightless bird, which he names Kevin, not realizing that the bird is actually female. They later run into a dog named Dug wearing a translating collar that lets him speak. They discover Dug’s owner is the elderly Charles Muntz himself, who returned to South America in his immense dirigible several decades earlier in a quest to find and bring back a large species of bird to restore his reputation, tarnished by accusations of fraud. Muntz invites Carl and Russell into his dirigible and Carl is initially thrilled to meet his hero. Unfortunately, the countless years he spent there has made Muntz greedy and paranoid, believing anyone who came to Paradise Falls was after the bird to steal his glory. When Carl realizes that Muntz is after Kevin and will kill without a moment’s thought in order to capture her alive, he takes steps to save the bird and escape with Russell. Thanks to Kevin and Dug they flee the dirigible and escape Muntz’s pack of vicious dogs, led by Alpha, but Kevin is injured during the escape.
As Carl and Russell assist the injured Kevin to her chicks, Muntz with his dogs arrives in his airship, led by a tracking device in Dug’s collar, and sets a fire under Carl’s house, forcing Carl to choose his house over Kevin. Muntz and his dogs quickly capture the bird and fly off. Though Carl successfully gets the house on the ground overlooking Paradise Falls per Ellie’s wish, he has lost Russell’s favor. Carl, settling down in his house, finds Ellie’s childhood scrapbook and discovers her mementos of her life with Carl after they were married, and a final note from her thanking Carl for her adventure of marriage with him and an encouragement for him to go on his own. Invigorated by Ellie’s last wish, he goes outside to find Russell, only to find him suspended from balloons to give chase to Muntz. Carl lightens the weight of his house by dumping his furniture and other possessions, allowing him to chase after Muntz in his house with Dug by his side.
Russell enters the airship through a window, but is captured by the dogs. He is tied up on a chair and left to fall to the earth from the dirigible’s access ramp. Carl saves him however, but keeps him tied up in the house for his own safety. Carl and Dug board the ship and are able to lure the guard dogs away from Kevin to free her. Carl and Muntz duel face to face and fight (Muntz with a sword, Carl with his cane), while Dug is able to wrest control of the dogs and the dirigible from Alpha. Russell frees himself but clings to a lifeline as he finds the house in a literal dogfight with biplanes piloted by Muntz’s dogs. When Carl shouts for help, Russell distracts the pilots and regains control of the house to rescue his friends, who are now on top of the airship. In pursuit, Muntz shoots out some of the balloons, causing the house to land and slide off the airship. Carl manages to trick Muntz inside the house while saving Russell, Dug, and Kevin. Muntz accidentally lets go of the rope and plummets towards the earth below, while Carl’s house drifts off into the clouds — a loss Carl gracefully accepts as being for the best.
Carl takes Muntz’s dirigible and returns Kevin to her chicks, then flies Russell and Dug back to the city. When Russell’s father misses his son’s Senior Explorer ceremony, Carl fulfills that role himself to proudly present Russell with his final badge, the grape soda cap badge that Ellie presented to Carl when they first met. Afterward, Carl, reinvigorated in both spirit and body from his adventure, becomes a cheerfully active community volunteer with a strong father-like relationship with Russell and the other Wilderness Explorers. Whilst Carl now resides in Muntz’s airship, his old house has landed exactly where Ellie envisioned it—-overlooking Paradise Falls. The last speaking scene before the credits shows Carl and Russell eating ice cream seated in front of Fenton’s, a real-life ice cream parlor in Oakland, California.
Oftentimes we’re taught to pursue with unremitting endeavor an aim that’s positive and beneficial to the society, but through the movie ‘Up’ we know that in practice we’re bound to face many choices, morally or legally. Not only the aim, but also our efforts to achieve the aim should be positive and beneficial. Take the ending of the 2 explorers, Muntz and Carl, and Russell, though ignorant of Muntz’s glory, Paradise Falls, and the horse sense that wilderness is wild, is no doubt the hero of our story.