|Carl and Ellie in their home|
Pixar’s UP begins with young Carl, an adventure-admiring, imaginative boy meeting his match in young Ellie. The two hit it off instantly with their shared interest in everything adventure, and the first eleven and a half minutes are an ode to their lifelong mutual devotion to each other. They become fast friends; they fall in love, marry, and build a life together. The only thing missing? After Ellie suffers a miscarriage, the two are immeasurably saddened by the loss of this baby. In an attempt to fill the void, Carl establishes an “Adventure Fund,” so that together they may one day be able to live what they always dreamed. However, with each passing year comes a new obstacle, requiring them to deplete their funds over and over again. Until one day, Ellie, old and weak, dies. And Carl is left alone with sadness and regret at not giving Ellie her big adventure. When I saw UP in the theater, I was sitting next to my husband, a man I met when I was 14, became best friends with, married, and was now going through infertility treatments with. So, this intro hit pretty close to home.
As I see it, the two infertility themes in this story are miscarriage and living childfree. Despite my vast experience with infertility, I am not personally familiar with either of these. I have, thankfully, never had a miscarriage (although during one very painful episode of endometrial bleeding, my husband and I were sure that I was in the midst of one), and thanks to IVF, I now have two sons. I can tell you that the first theme, miscarriage, is shown in only seconds, and it is a scene that will remain with you throughout the entire film. In thirty seconds, this animated family film is able to portray the loss in such a visceral way that even if you have never had an experience like it, you will be brought to tears. And I can tell you that the second theme, living childfree, is complicated and filled with mixed emotions. Carl, tormented by his inability to give his wife what she wanted, finally realizes by the end of the film that Ellie’s life with him was her adventure, and that she was happy with it. Many couples must make the difficult decision whether to keep trying, to continue fertility treatments, to hope that the next cycle works, that the next pregnancy sticks, to attempt adoption, or to somehow find a way to come to terms with a life without children. Some couples make this decision. But for some, the decision is made for them.
|Carl and Ellie prepare the nursery for their baby|