There are so many films to think of when considering the most influential or important. From Citizen Kane to Man with a Movie Camera, from Vertigo to 2001: A Space Odyssey. These and more are the fundamental bedrock of the cinema we enjoy today, without them the art form would be duller and the world a little blander. Yet, there is another film which should also be considered, perhaps at face value this film isn’t in the same league or doesn’t hold the same artistic weight, but consider this an argument that it is. So, what is this film, what film should stand there with these titans? It’s obvious really – Toy Story.
Approaching 26 years old now, this can no longer be considered a recent, or indeed, modern film. Instead, it needs to be seen as the important piece of cinema history it is. Wording it this way runs of the risk of making it sound old, out of touch, or perhaps boring, but the reason why it’s still beloved to this day is because of its universal reliability and childhood innocence.
It follows the adventures of a cowboy doll named Woody (Tom Hanks), who becomes increasingly jealous of his owner’s new favourite toy, a spaceman figure named Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
The first thing to understand is the impact this film had on cinema as a whole. Released back in 1995, no other fully 3D animated film had a theatrical release before. Produced by then-fledgling studio Pixar, they had only created a series of shorts using 3D animation at this point. When Toy Story was released, it was seen as nothing more than an experiment by some and the future by others. We know who turned out to be true.
The impact the film’s 3D animation had on cinema cannot be overstated. Also immediately animated began to shift from 2D to 3D, across other studios and the world. This was helped by the film’s universal praise, critics and audiences loved the film immediately, propelling Pixar into the now Disney owned goliath it is today.
The themes of the film, of knowing one’s place in the world, understanding what we mean to others, accepting change and the importance of friendship helped the film succeed globally. Now with three sequels, it has become one of the best-known film franchises the world over.
Children and adults of the film in equal amounts, it delicately balances the humour and themes to appeal to all, something many films try and fail to accomplish. Most importantly, the film represents a time in our lives most of us miss or than intense nostalgia for – childhood. The simplicity of our lives back then and the innocence we didn’t know we enjoyed.
Toy Story, for a brief time, allows us to recapture those feelings, it brings us back to when we were children or reminds us of our children who have now grown and left home. It’s truly a film for everyone that manages to remain consistently relevant. Like an old friend, it is something you can rely on, it’s there and it’ll never change. This is why it should be considered one of the all-time greats.