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“Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place.” – Judith Wright
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
Leave it to the storytelling gurus behind Pixar Animation Studio to come up with a relatively simple, high concept story dealing with a complex subject, yet wrapped in a context that is both easily understood in its universalness while appealing to the young and old alike. Accomplishing this is no easy feat, but the folks at Pixar know perhaps better than any other studio the power of a thematically rich narrative.
Theme, after all, is often thought of as “the heart” of a story, what it’s really about. The heart therefore represents that inner journey whereas the plot (events) are typically external to the character, but Inside Out twists this notion and makes the inner (emotional) journey part of the plot while emotions themselves are characters who learn and influence one another, resulting in change that ultimately reveals a universal truth. As Lisa Cron wrote in her book Wired For Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence:
“Since theme is the underlying point the narrative makes about the human experience, it’s also where the universal lies. The universal is a feeling, emotion, or truth that resonates with us all.”
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