If you've been fortunate enough to see Disney Pixar's wonderful Inside Out, then you know about Lava. Like just about every one of the Disney Pixar films, it has a short film beforehand, giving the audience a little extra bang for their buck.
This time, the short film was called Lava, and it was written about a volcano who wants to fall in love. Obviously.
Now, alongside Pixar's beautiful visuals and their unparalleled skill of making us care about the emotions of a volcano, there is one significant aspect of this short film which has stayed with me long after seeing it. Whilst Inside Out was glorious in all the ways Pixar films should be, Lava hit me in a way that made me appreciate the power of Pixar all the more and it was this, the song which told the story of the volcano and his ridiculously relatable quest.
That song has been stuck in my head since I left the cinema and quite honestly, it's moved me. To the point that once I got home I immediately found it on YouTube and streamed it to my speaker system so I could hear it again, in all its glory. I've even learned how to play it on my ukulele. I was on my own and just kinda sat there, imagining the world this volcano lives in - an absurd thing to write, but it happened.
Never mind the fact that I'm a 28-year-old male who loves beer, football (or soccer, for you American types) and just assumes that one day I'll run into Jennifer Lawrence and she'll fall in love with me (if it can happen to a volcano, it can happen to me), here I am in my own home listening to a song about a volcano falling in love sung beautifully and performed on a ukulele.
The power of the song in parallel visuals isn't anything new with Pixar movies, of course. You only have to bring up 'that' scene from Toy Story 2 where we learn of Jessie's traumatic backstory for us to cry mercilessly over the idea of how many toys we've left in boxes over the years when all they've ever wanted is to love us unconditionally, with Sarah Mclachlan's beautiful 'When She Loved Me' playing over perhaps the most heartbreaking montage in cinema history. But here, the sadness begins and ends with a simple longing for companionship. Who hasn't felt that once in their lifetime? We never learn the name of the volcano or the object of his affection, but we don't need too. The song is powerful enough, the chorus repeating a simple need throughout the song;
I have a dream, I hope will come true
That you're here with me, and I'm here with you
The volcano has such a straightforward desire, a longing deep inside just to share life with someone else. Whilst he seems content being a volcano, doing his volcano things, he simply wants to experience life with someone. We all get that right?
It took me back to a time when I shared the sentiment. It wasn't so long ago I was pining for that same wish. I was happy and loving life, my friends and family were happy and healthy and I was just enjoying the world around me as much as I could; but there was always something missing and I always assumed it would find me when I needed it the most. When I was 25 I nearly had a breakdown over the simple fact of loneliness, how it affects you so deeply even when you're surrounded by so many people who care for you.
I would look to my two older sisters and see them married with children by the time they were my age. They had already found their volcanic soul-mates, and I wondered if it was me. Should I worry so much about the concept of loneliness or go out and try to defeat it? I wrestled with the idea of wanting or needing to fall in love, as both were pretty destructive. After a little time of just trying to come to terms with a situation that seemed better to be left in the hands of destiny, I met my volcano. Turns out I had met her years ago, it's funny how things work out.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. This is a song about a volcano who falls in love. But damn, it hit me like a bullet, had me crying to myself quietly in the packed cinema full of parents trying to get their kids to relax. I'm not married, nor do I have kids (though I have nieces and nephews who I love unconditionally and could never live without now) but I have my volcano, and this song reminded me how damn hard it was. The long struggle to find that perfect person who wants to share your life with you as much as you want to share your life with them. This five-minute-long song about a volcano made me feel all of these things and I'm very grateful to Pixar for this.
We know they very rarely put a foot wrong and when they smash it out of the park they take all of your emotions with them and don't let go. At their very best, they do something nobody else can do; they make you look at yourself and your life in a different way and appreciate the smallest of things that you sometimes forget when everyone's in such a hurry to do whatever it is they're doing. Lava set me up for Inside Out perfectly. I was ready to feel whatever it was Pixar was ready to show me and it was as perfect a family film as you're likely to see all year. Probably until the next Pixar film, I'd imagine.
But that short film, wow. Truly beautiful, in every sense.
Thanks Pixar, I lava'd it.