The movie “Inside Out” depicts how depression happens and what is depression’s cure. This societal issue is presented with compassion, wisdom and a very real understanding that there is a way out. In short, depression results from realizing something you had is gone, but not being able to let go. The film’s writers show how we need to be able to “come apart” in order to “come back together”. No one can do this on their own because as in the film, under the shock of loss, our various parts become disintegrated. This film was widely received and was a box office hit with audiences of all ages. It struck a chord with many people and was extremely thought-provoking.
Until this film was released, depression had never been presented in quite this way. It had been eluded to, or briefly mentioned, but never been the main theme of a major animated movie that targeted young audiences. In the movie we learn about the film’s main character, “Riley, is a happy, fun-loving eleven-year-old Midwestern girl whose world turns upside down when her family moves to San Francisco. Her emotions Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger try to guide her through this difficult time, but the stress of the move brings sadness and ultimately depression, to the forefront of her thoughts” (Docter et. Al). When Joy and Sadness move to the recesses of her mind, Anger, Fear, and Disgust take over as the primary emotions. As a result, Riley’s behavior begins to change in ways that shock her parents. She becomes moody, sullen, and talks back when provoked. They realize there are deeper issues going on with Riley than just coping with the family’s relocation. Her mother’s mantra of “just be my happy girl” no longer helped Riley come out of her sad mood.
Riley’s loss of her childhood in Minnesota, with her love of hockey and close friends, doesn’t become apparent to her or her parents until she gets to San Francisco. She struggles to keep the joyful memories alive, but they keep getting mixed up with sadness. The movie shows “personality islands” made of core memories. The islands were family, goofball, hockey, friendships, and honesty. They become weak and vulnerable to collapse which they ultimately do, one by one.
Riley’s journey is her discovery of the fact that joy cannot exist unless it is partnered with sadness. Sadness is a way to get rid of pain without grieving, and when exposed to the inevitable changes and losses of life, joy is unequipped for the pain and the depression that follows. The brilliant insight of this movie is that when we grow and become exposed to more complex life and pain, the earlier memories of ourselves really do die. Riley realizes that there is hope, that there are relationships still available to her. She ultimately returns home to her parents who love her and allow her to grieve. This highlights the need for a supportive environment when dealing with depression. According to Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, “Depression is characterized by feelings of worthlessness, guilt, sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. In contrast to normal sadness or the grief accompanying the loss of a loved one, clinical depression is persistent and severe. It plays a key role in several disorders involving a disturbance in mood”. This definition defines Riley’s behavior after her family relocated. When Riley failed to perform well during hockey tryouts, she ran away from home. She almost boarded a bus to take her back to Minnesota, but at the last minute realized returning home would be a better decision.
The achievement of “Inside Out” is that it shows depression’s nature, cause, and courses of healing for anyone who may have encountered this type of emotional upheaval in their own life. The film was the topic of many talk shows, news features, and chat rooms. It opened a larger conversation to a wide audience. This movie is an outcry to society, basically telling us to give in to our feelings and stop fighting them. It is a wake-up call of the importance of talking about mental health issues and especially to younger generations, who traditionally were not a part of this conversation, even though depression affects young children as well.
Throughout history, many pivotal figures have suffered from depression including Abraham Lincoln, Georgia O’Keefe, Sigmund Freud, and Winston Churchill just to name a few. During their lives, they were able to contribute greatly to society even while battling this affliction. Depression was not as widely talked about as it is today. Many people from all walks of life, regardless of their ethnicity or socioeconomic status suffer from depression. “Approximately 80% of persons with depression reported some level of functional impairment because of their depression and 27% reported serious difficulties in work and home life “(Pratt 1). Both Riley’s home life and school life were deeply impaired by her depression. She struggled with trying to hold onto her joyful childhood while moving in a new direction making new memories. When she finally came to the realization that she could have a new life in a new place, with parents who loved and supported her, Riley became once again “a happy girl”.
In conclusion, “Inside Out” takes you through an adventurous journey through the mind of a young girl. The movie teaches about depression and the affects it has on your mood, behavior, and actions. In the end, everything returns to normal and that shows that life will get better and there is always a brighter side to the picture.
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