Recently, “Borrowed Time”, an animated movie made by Pixar in 2015, resurfaced on the internet for its unconventionally tragic story line. It depicts a sheriff revisiting an accident site where a young boy he witnessed the death of his father. Unable to let go of his past and forgive himself for the accident, he comes there to commit suicide, but realizes that he must live on and find the strength to deal with his guilt.
Daring to go sad.
The six-minute-long movie, which has been made available on Vimeo for a limited period of time, depicts in detail the dark themes of familial loss and mourning, that get more vivid with every step the sheriff takes. Pixar animator Lou Hamou-Lhadj explained that the adult theme was very much intentional with the aim to contest “the notion of animation as a genre” and to convey that “animation could be a medium to tell any sort of story.”
Daring to talk about mental health.
It is also notable how animation movies are exploring the motif of mental health, a subject our children (and parents) are still not exposed to sufficiently. Movies like “Out of Bounds”, “Inside Out”, and “Finding Dory” touch upon various issues like amnesia and agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces), and openly deal with emotions like sadness and frustration. Such movies subtly weave the psychological construct of mental health with a seemingly regular story line. This goes on to show how creators are willing to talk about such themes—and the stigma related to it—without really compromising on the imaginative or magical aspects of the movies.
However, it is important to not read too much between the lines when dealing with the subject of mental health. For example, some argue that Scar from “The Lion King” suffered from an antisocial personality disorder, whereas I think he was just being portrayed as your quintessential villain for the sake of a compelling story line. It could very well be simply a case of power politics and sibling rivalry with the creators not anticipating in the least that Scar’s character could be analyzed on behavioral grounds.