Finding Nemo – Silencing Spectacle

Quick Thoughts: Finding Nemo (2003)

A clown fish’s son is captured by a scuba diver, leaving him no other option but to travel across the ocean and rescue him.

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo, in many respects, is a perfect movie. It’s main flaw, however, would be that it’s such an air-tight piece of entertainment that there’s not really much to say about it that the movie doesn’t already directly say. In such, beyond being another representative of a technological jump for Pixar, Finding Nemo is an archetypal adventure film in which a pessimistic main character learns that he is not made out of glass and can only grow through duress (his son and loved ones included). You can of course see this in a plethora of other movies, leaving Finding Nemo a pretty solid example of why there are adventure films at all. Firstly, they are the purest form of spectacle and fun that use cinema as a transportive medium in the most direct sense. Secondly, adventure films mimic life quite unambiguously by demonstrating that experiences teach lessons. We see this in Finding Nemo through the brilliant set-pieces (the interior of the whale scene being entirely awe-inspiring) and the plethora of unique characters (Crush probably being my favourite) that allow the Pixar team to build and establish a wondrous world of rich depth. And then there is Marlin’s inner journey layered on top of this physical expedition, one that really captures the dedication of a parent. By confronting his fear, the unknown and looming danger, Marlin not only realises just how important his son is to him, but that, if he is to truly support and care for him, he must allow him to go on adventures of his own.

For the fact that this is all incredibly self-evident, I’ve always enjoyed Finding Nemo as a film to be experienced, not so much thought about. And this may have been what it was designed to be. After all, the opening lines of the making-of for Finding Nemo, as said by the writer and co-director Andrew Stanton, are:

“We just wanna make a good movie. We just wanna make a movie that entertains us; that I would want see; that doesn’t exclude anybody.”

This, whilst it is positive in many respects, isn’t going to satisfy everyone as, especially in my view, complexity and greater depth really boost a film. I think one reason why Finding Nemo lacks the emotional depth and complexity of films such as Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story can be attributed to the extensive research carried out by the team behind it. Not only did numerous artists working on this film have to qualify as scuba divers and then go diving to investigate coral reefs, but they also had to attend marine biology and oceanography classes. What I then see Finding Nemo as, in large part, is an expression of a technological and aesthetic fascination. There is certainly a lot of heart in this movie concerning parenting and pessimism, but it all feels as if its on the page and unambiguous, not so much imbued into the narrative.

So, all in all, whilst I think Finding Nemo is a tremendous film, I really don’t have much to say about it (at least, not after the countless re-watches so far – so, maybe I’ll find something more to say at a later date). This, admittedly, isn’t the worst thing in the world, so I’ll leave things with you. What are your thoughts on Finding Nemo?

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