Inside Out: A peek into the depths of the mind

The way the mind space is imagined is truly wonderful.  

The makers of Pixar’s latest fantasy animation flick, Inside Out, can be proud of it. It is a smart film that is heart-warming, sensitive and extraordinarily imaginative. The inventiveness of Inside Out lies not in the animation, but in the manner the inner workings of the mind have been dreamed up. The film is about what happens inside Riley’s mind — which is depicted as a headquarters of sorts — wherein various human emotions such as Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust, are represented by characers and work on a console that controls Riley.

The way the mind space is imagined is truly wonderful. In a vast space, all major aspects of her life such as family, friends and so on are represented as theme parks, which start working when the respective emotions are projected onto her mind.

Genre: Fantasy comedy-drama
Director: Pete Docter
Voice cast: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling
Storyline: Riley, who goes into depression, needs to be saved by Joy.

For example, the ‘family’ theme park switches on when she is having a good family time. It breaks down if she is having a tiff with them. Similarly, there are theme parks based on friendship, goofball and honesty too. All of these theme parks are connected to the central headquarters. There is also a machine in which her core memories — the defining moments of her life — are depicted as glowing small balls that can then be inserted and projected onto her mind. There is even a place where dreams are made: it is depicted as a sprawling film studio, where her daily memories are written as a script with actors reading out the lines.

All of these imaginations are apparently homologous to the way our brain actually processes emotions. Riley lives a happy life until she is forced to move to San Francisco after her father decides to begin a new start-up. Joy and Sadness are sucked out of the mind’s headquarters and banished to the deepest depths of the mind’s subconscious, where, apparently, memories and imaginations are reduced to just ashes. On her first day of school in the new city, Riley's depression sets in. Can Joy find her way back to the headquarters and take control of Riley’s mind again? That’s the story.

But the real story is about mental depression and suggests that the way out of it lies in learning to deal with sorrow. Despite the fact that the film has received criticism on how it misconceives brain functions, writer-director Pete Docter deserves praise for dreaming up such an exquisite fantasy world.

Perhaps, we must leave the science to psychologists and cognitive scientists, but Inside Out nevertheless succeeds in flagging the issue of mental health in a remarkable manner. As we walk out of the theatre, it is hard not to think of our minds as being controlled by tiny human beings. It may not make sense, but it is beautiful.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 8:13:16 AM |

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