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Pixar is Obsessed With ‘The Odyssey’

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Onward has been a disappointment at the box office, which is strange because it shares a near-identical story structure with other beloved Pixar films, including the hits Finding Nemo, Inside Out, and Up. All of these movies follow an adventure narrative that bears a distinct resemblance to the original journey story, The Odyssey.

Homer’s epic poem, a sequel to The Iliad, is about the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses for the Romans), chronicling his attempt to return home to Ithaca following the Trojan War. Like Odysseus, Pixar’s protagonists often embark on a dangerous journey into the unknown in pursuit of their goal. The destination is synonymous with their objective, and it’s usually family-related for that sweet emotional payoff. Odysseus wants to see his wife and son again. Finding Nemo’s Marlin goes out into the open ocean to find his son. Carl from Up wants to fulfill his deceased wife’s last wish. And Onward follows the elf brothers Ian and Barley as they set off to find a magical object that will resurrect their deceased father for one day.

As with most Greek heroes, Odysseus’s plight is partially self-inflicted due to his own hubris. His second stop on his travels involves a mishap with a cyclops (a creature also present in Onward) whom he taunts. The cyclops proceeds to invoke the wrath of his father, the sea god Poseidon, and Odysseus ends up lost at sea for much longer than he’d planned. Odysseus succumbs to his own ego and pays for it. The troubles of the Pixar protagonists are likewise rooted........

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