Up is Carl Fredricksen’s Journey in the Afterlife
by Emily Keen
Pixar’s Up just got really sad! The movie explicitly aims at tackling the themes of loss and grief. But on a deeper level, it could mean something depressing. Since Pixar overlooked many scientific aspects of floating a house in the air, it has caused fans to speculate that the floating house was symbolic of Carl’s death and transition into his afterlife.
The basic error with the idea of a floating house is that he carl would need at least 100,000 balloons spread on every three feet. But how can a senior citizen with a fixed income manage to pull this off and have it installed on such short notice?
The flying house could mean only one thing. Carl is dead and he is being flown to the spiritual world. And the person guiding Carl in his journey in the afterlife is Russell. He is probably trying to earn his wings by fulfilling the task of Carl’s transition. This is seemingly his final badge attainment task which requires him to help an old man.
Once Russell successfully helps Carl, he becomes a guardian angel in a true sense. Carl’s erroneous perceptions about life need to be corrected. Russell’s innocence and devotion will help Carl see where he is wrong about life. This is clearly working because Carl seems to react positively to many of Russell’s actions. Russell may have taken a child’s form to impact Carl much deeply because Carl and his wife always longed for a child but never had one. It is possible Carl is living his long term dream through Russell’s presence.
Kevin is symbolic of a higher calling or God. Russell probably knows about Kevin’s reality. Carl does not care about Kevin. He just wants to shake him off. But Russell is the one who helps Carl see that Kevin’s presence might actually be a good thing. Kevin loves chocolates. It shows his thrill to earn small rewards on the way of chasing the higher calling. And him never being around when Carl needs him the most is also indicative of the same thing.
Dug’s translational collar is a part of Carl’s ascend too. Dug possibly is a symbol of transition himself. Dug who originally belonged to Muntz followed Carl and now lives by his side. Through a translational collar, Dug is said to have bridged the gap between humans and animals. Which probably reads like, he is supposed to help Carl bridge the gap between life and the afterlife.
Muntz is cruel and signifies Lucifer according to the theory. He’s trying to bring down Kevin is similar to Lucifer meaning to destroy the good in the Bible. The catch being Carl’s soul. If Muntz succeeds, Carl is forever trapped in the cage of despair.
The house symbolizes Carl’s yearning for the physical world. Paradise Falls is his ultimate destination. Paradise means heaven. When the house finally lands in Paradise Falls, Carl has completed the transition and reunited with his beloved wife Ellie. That right there is his greatest adventure!