Did Pixar rip off a French short with “Up?”

Posted by · 5:39 pm · June 16th, 2010

That seems to be the possibility put forth in this detailed /Film post, which concludes (somehow) that it was all a coincidence.  But truly, I wonder.  One of the commenters mentions “Finding Nemo” supposedly bearing a striking resemblance to a French children’s book.

I have no answers.  None of consequence will likely be coming.  But it’s interesting.  And a bummer of a story to hit just a few days away from the release of “Toy Story 3.”

Check out the French short in question, titled “Above Then Beyond,” after the jump. And cut loose with your thoughts in the comments section.  Total coincidence or something fishy?

→ 27 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

27 responses so far

  • 1 6-16-2010 at 5:59 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Non-issue, I think. The only similarity is the very basic plot outline. The rest of “Up” (everything in Venezuela and after) has nothing to do with this short, so it can hardly be labeled a rip-off. If anything, appropriation.

  • 2 6-16-2010 at 6:11 pm

    Speaking English said...

    And by basic plot outline I mean just the beginning of “Up” minus the lost love one – which is kind of the whole point of the film.

  • 3 6-16-2010 at 6:42 pm

    Me. said...

    I loved the short (except for the ending) and I’m sure “Up” was inspired by it!

  • 4 6-16-2010 at 8:09 pm

    Andrew F said...

    What a great short. And yes, this is suspiciously close to the first act of “Up”, right down to the design of the house.

    Speaking English is right, though: everything in Venezuela is original, and that’s most of “Up”s running time.

  • 5 6-16-2010 at 9:21 pm

    Anonymous said...

    I like Pixar. But if you had made this film and a major Hollywood studio had ripped you off, how would you feel? They should have paid the filmmakers and optioned the material, MINIMALLY. These people should sue. The Venezuela portion of the film always felt tacked on and now we know why!

    By this clip, everything was stollen, from the look of the entire idea of the film, the story premise (the developers taking over a house from an older person who has to escape), the balloon taking the house up and away, the design elements with the sunny sunshine and the encroaching city… totally ripped off. How sad. Pixar should be ashamed and should do the right thing and pay these people.

    Can Hollywood do anything original without remaking something somebody else did and just changing it enough “slightly”? It’s a sad state.

  • 6 6-16-2010 at 9:29 pm

    Chris138 said...

    This certainly looks like it would have had some inspiration for the creators of Up, but obviously Pixar had to expand the story. But yeah, this looks pretty similar to one of the earlier scenes in the film.

  • 7 6-16-2010 at 9:57 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    I think Anonymous makes the point I would make. I’m surprised Pixar had to lift the concept of the movie from some other source, without credit being given. That is shameful. Yes, UP is a larger story–but only because it’s a longer, more well-moneyed movie. I’d be crushed, if I were the maker of the original film. Even so, I don’t think UP is all that. Not a favorite of mine.

  • 8 6-16-2010 at 11:40 pm

    Tye-Grr said...

    Well, the above short just depressed the hell out of me.

    Anywho, yes, obviously there are similarities, but I don’t think it’s blatant ripping-off on Pixar’s part. Consider this to be blowing smoke, but nothing more…

  • 9 6-17-2010 at 12:32 am

    Hans said...

    I can’t see the short because I’m on my iPhone (get on that, Jobs), but the defense I usually come up with when something like this comes up (eg Avatar ripping off Pocahontas) is that there are hundreds of stories that get retold in tens of thousands of different ways. However, this does seem just a little too similar to be a coincidence; one can’t really say there’s been many stories over the years about a flying house. As soon as I see the short I’ll be able to make a better judgment, but for now I can probably guess that it isn’t near the ripoff that Disney got away with when they made The Lion King.

  • 10 6-17-2010 at 1:14 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    The visual cues are entirely too similar for this to be dismissed as a coincidence. These guys would be well within their rights to sue. As Anonymous says, Pixar could easily have optioned this — the fact “Up” eventually goes its own way hardly excuses a plagiarised premise.

  • 11 6-17-2010 at 3:37 am

    red_wine said...

    Pixar movies are in production for 5-6 years. I believe the script was finalized in 2004 with the now famous trip and everything to South America to study the topography and stuff.
    Still these guys should try their luck and make an attempt to sue, we can see what will come out of it.

    I would say the depth of feeling that comes in the take-off sequence in Pixar comes from what transpired earlier and I think Up is way more fully realized than this admirable short.

  • 12 6-17-2010 at 4:00 am

    red_wine said...

    Also the slash film article tells us that concept art from 2004 already had Carl with balloons and his house wedged in by sky scrapers, the trip to South America was also there that means they knew the house was gonna go to South America, and that they specifically imagined Carl to be a balloon salesman means that they obviously had the house floating over to SA with balloons all along.

    Also lets throw another log into the fire.
    Is the celebrated Oscar winning main theme from Up plagiarized?
    Judge for yourself.

  • 13 6-17-2010 at 8:23 am

    John said...

    A few years ago in Spain a tv program made a comparison between The lion king and Atlantis and two very old japanese animated films, and the coincidences were incredible. So, I buy the theory of Disney copying because I’ve seen this theory before.

  • 14 6-17-2010 at 11:45 am

    Speaking English said...

    Okay, but “Up” isn’t about a flying house. The whole premise of the film is about a man who’s trying to fulfill the lost dreams of himself and his dead wife… where is that in the short? The stories are nothing alike.

    And ‘flying’ inanimate objects (people, homes, whatever) is hardly that unique an idea. PIXAR must have gotten some inspiration from “The Red Balloon,” too.

  • 15 6-17-2010 at 12:21 pm

    Andrew m said...

    The idea of a flying house is hardly original. The Wizard of Oz had a flying house, and the image of picking up your house and flying away has always been around. I’m not saying they didn’t rip this film off, but I’m on the coincidence side, especially since they had concept art from 2004.

  • 16 6-17-2010 at 12:26 pm

    Andrew m said...

    It also says on Wikipedia that writing began in 2004, so I’m guessing they had the idea of a flying house back then.

  • 17 6-17-2010 at 1:24 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Really, anyone NOT drawing obvious connections in visual cues is out to lunch, I have to say. This isn’t a case of “the idea of a flying house is hardly original,” so let’s not stretch too much here.

  • 18 6-17-2010 at 2:05 pm

    Tyler said...

    The dudes in suits and the encroaching city is REALLY similar. But yeah, I need to know when the movie was drawn up and all.

  • 19 6-17-2010 at 3:23 pm

    Speaking English said...

    There are obvious visual cues, Kris. No doubt. But besides those couple parallels there’s nothing in common. If the entire plot of “Up” was encapsulated in this short, if there were talking dogs and a boy scout and a trip to Venezuela to fulfill the dreams of a dead spouse, then I’d be worrying. There’s not. At the most this is simple appropriation.

  • 20 6-17-2010 at 4:30 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “At the most this is simple appropriation.”

    And you’re saying there’s nothing wrong with that?!

  • 21 6-17-2010 at 4:33 pm

    Abi said...

    I preface this by saying that I haven’t seen Up in several months and it is the only Pixar DVD I don’t own, so I cannot compare the 2 scenes except from memory. And I have no training in film-making.


    Some of the frames I do see how it looks like a copy, but I wonder how much comes down to executing the same concept (old person flies away in a house) in the same way. If you have the same premise and you are working collaboratively (as I assume both groups did) then it is plausible that both of your groups come up with the same major ideas.

    Which I guess leads to: did Pixar copy the premise? Which I’m not sure can be proven.

    As an aside, I always thought the whole house thing was at least partly inspired by this picture book from 1943: http://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Virginia-Lee-Burton/dp/0395181569

  • 22 6-17-2010 at 4:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Uh, what Guy said.

  • 23 6-17-2010 at 7:36 pm

    Andrew F said...

    Speaking English — I was thinking about asking you earlier, but now that Guy and Kris have both expressed the same exasperation… what exactly do you mean by “at most simple appropriation”?

  • 24 6-17-2010 at 8:40 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “The term appropriation refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work[2] (as in ‘the artist uses appropriation’) or refers to the new work itself (as in ‘this is a piece of appropriation art’). Art practices involve the ‘appropriation’ of ideas, symbols, artefacts, image, sound, objects, forms or styles from other cultures, from art history, from popular culture or other aspects of man made visual or non visual culture.[3] Inherent in the process of appropriation is the fact that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original ‘thing’ remains accessible as the original, without change.”

    Appropriation is legal and moral: ‘ripping-off’ is quite the opposite.

  • 25 6-17-2010 at 10:02 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    “Legal” or not, it stinks, and if I were the original filmmakers, I’d look into making a to-do about it (particularly if the movie was made before 2004, which it looks like it was, animation-wise). Again, yeah, UP builds on the premise, but really the premise is the thing. Without that, there is no movie called UP. Some wrist-slapping, at least, is needed here.

  • 26 6-18-2010 at 9:16 am

    Adam said...

    The student at ESRA said that Pixar and ESRA are associated with each other, and the automatic assumption is that Pixar was the one who stole the concept, isn’t it possible that it went the other way around?

    There are definitely uncomfortable similarities, but the short film was started in 2005 finished in 2006, /film shows concept art on Carl and the house in the city predating that, the floating house concept art suspiciously didn’t appear till 2006 but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an idea they were batting around.

  • 27 2-10-2013 at 10:04 pm

    l said...

    The main melody from “Up” and “Married Life” by Micheal Giacchino is a copy, ( a beautiful and embellished copy) / rip off of the song “Sabda Alam” which was popular in Indonesia in the 70’s.

    Seriously. Listen to this midi, or research the song yourself.

    http://www.mobidest.com/node/1201 If you play it at 1.5 speed it is spot on in the main melody part!

    My husband, who was born in Indonesia, and I both enjoyed the movie, but afterward he said, “I feel like I’ve heard the song before” and later realized he was singing along with it in Indonesian! I didn’t believe him until he found the song online.

    Evidently it was so popular in the day there were even spin-off versions poking fun at it over the years. Love the music, but think the original artists should be recognized especially considering it won awards.