Analysis of The Communist Manifesto in Up

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UP is a 3D animated comedy adventure film produced and animated by Pixar Studios and Walt Disney respectively. The film places its focus on Carl Fredricksen, an elderly loner who lost his wife of over fifty years and Russel, an earnest boy eager to earn his badge for supporting the elderly. Pete Docter, the director of the film, manages to highlight some valuable themes throughout the movie, among them the role of society in influencing the direction, activity and happiness of man. Through the use of ‘The Communist Manifesto’ by Marx and Engels, the paper will look to analyze different ways Docter portrays his characters throughout the movie and how it relates to Marx`s doctrines. This will provide a better understanding of ‘Up’ based on the manifesto.

Characters representing the working class in Up and how they appear to be exploited

The working class in the film ‘Up’ is Mr. Carl Fredricksen, his wife, the police as well as the site workers who were receiving orders from the ever suited up contractor. The proletariats were represented as fairly positive characters who were content with their livelihoods as can be seen from the montage of Carl and his wife Ellie. When growing up as children both Carl and Ellie were highly optimistic of a bright future and hoped to go an adventure to South America. However, the needs to make a living was necessary which more often than not saw the couple spend their savings on basic home tasks such as repairs which greatly compromised their ability to fulfill their dreams. The working class couple barely made enough to achieve their dreams; this greatly contributes to the unfolding of the plot where Carl goes on a mission to fulfill the dreams he shared with his wife.

The elderly and lonely Carl is powerless and cannot fight the contractors for long and after an altercation with one of the site supervisors, he is instructed to relocate to an elderly nursing home through a court order. Carl was branded a public nuisance. The decision to banish him from his home is an indication of how the working class was powerless against the bourgeoisie. The contractors had enough power due to the company`s financial ability and as a result, were able to get the most from the incident between Carl and one of the employees. Another way the working class was manipulated can be seen from the powerlessness of the police who, although the face was not revealed, believed that Carl was not a public nuisance but still had to leave for the nursing home either way. This is a representation of how the working class is expected to align with the will of the more powerful bourgeoisie.   Moreover, the site workers were also a representation of the working class. There was a distinct difference between the contractors and the site workers despite the site workers doing most of the work. The contractors were always suited up and appeared busy. It was the construction workers who were always on the ground negotiating Carl`s departure on behalf of the contractors as can be seen in the movie.

Who the bourgeoisie character(s) is in the film and what they do under ‘capitalism’ that negatively affects the working class

The construction company represents the bourgeoisie in the film ‘Up’. The company managed to buy off other properties surrounding Carl`s home and was determined to buy off the seniors` home as well. This represents capitalism at its highest level where private institutions with control and access to various means of production as well as financial resources have enough power to influence other stakeholders. Marx and Engels (6) assert, “The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population a compared with the rural”.

As can be seen in ‘Up’, Carl received a harsher punishment than initially deserved courtesy of the influence the company had due to its resources. The working class such as Carl are easily controlled and influenced into doing what the bourgeoisie want. This is evident when observing the neighborhood and how everyone except Carl sold their houses which were demolished to allow for the construction of skyscrapers. The film`s director, Pete Docter reiterated the importance of Carl stepping out of his working class mentality after being pushed to the edge. He decides to take power in his hands and fly out for the adventure of his lifetime. The bourgeoisie appear to limit and control the powers of the proletariats who dance to the tune of the powerful as is evident in the film. A decent neighborhood was bought off and destroyed so that a more capable and powerful company can put up skyscrapers that would yield even more wealth and consequently create a wider gap.

How the characters interact and work together

Communism is indirectly advocated in the film as can be seen from director`s reliance on strength in Unity. Since the start of the animation, Docter was keen to portray the characters as needy of each other. This is evident in the first scene when Carl met up with Ella. They soon begin planning together and decide to team up to go on their adventure. This continues throughout as can be seen when they attempt to save up despite spending the money collected on repairs and other bills.

Another indication of communism in the film is clear when observing the relationship between Carl, Russel, Kevin and Dug whose collaboration enabled the protagonist to achieve his dream. This is similar to the Communist Manifesto which highlights that the working class can only overcome the bourgeoisie through teaming up and consequently acquiring the assets of the ruling class.  This is evident from Marx and Engels (13) conclusion “The immediate aim of the communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties; formation of the proletariat into a class and overthrow the bourgeois supremacy”. Indeed, the minorities become a formidable team that eventually manages to overpower the antagonists.  The characters are all in need of achieving something different. Carl was desperate to fulfill his longstanding promise to Ella while Russel wanted his final badge that was only attainable through assisting the elderly. They were forced by circumstances to team up and eventually they all achieved their desires by teaming up with Dug and Kevin who were instrumental to their journey.

Interestingly, people in the same class were friendly to each other. An example is Carl`s relationship with the construction workers. He was seen communicating with the lower ranking employees who were performing the construction work. The suited contractors were never shown having conversations with others except amongst themselves. This is similar to Marx`s and Engel`s reiteration on the communist manifesto whereby they communicated the need for people to confine themselves to their respective social class.

What in the Film Up is at stake?

A lot is at stake in the film. As mentioned earlier, the various characters each had their stories. Carl was desperate to fulfill the promise made to his wife while Russel needed a final badge. The stakes might appear not so large at first glance, a stance which soon changes as the plot continues to unfold. The film indirectly juxtaposes the lives of the two main characters, Carl and Russel. Carl, as a child had big dreams of adventure and in his twilight, as a senior was yet to achieve his goals. This is similar to most working class people who always dream big but never muster enough courage to follow their desires. Instead they become part of a cycle. Contrastingly, Russel is both similar and different to Carl. As a child he is extremely passionate and determined to achieve all his goals. He immediately embarks on a mini-search when Carl initially sends him off in a bid to get rid of him. Therefore, a lot more than just personal goals is at stake in the film.

Achievement is at stake for all the main characters as they all want to feel part of something larger than themselves in life. However, no one is able to achieve the personal goals alone. They all have to team up and find a way to co-exist not only with themselves but also with new characters they meet all the way. Docter is keen to highlight the importance of collaboration or coming together to achieve a common goal. This is similar to ‘The Communist Manifesto’ which reiterates the need of coming together to overcome the powers of the ruling class. Incase Carl had not defiled the orders of the ruling class; he would be locked up in a nursing care. He went ahead to pursue his dreams and together with the other characters overcame the challenges that came their way.


‘Up’ as an animation is full of numerous communist themes. It is possible to note the impact of the ruling class on the proletariats in the film. Carl was forced to moving out of his neighborhood by the ruling class. He then embarked on the long overdue adventure. The ruling class appeared keen on achieving its goals no matter the cost. This is evident from the court order that required Carl enrolled in a nursing home. The weight of the situation did not warrant such stern actions from the court but the power of the private construction proved why capitalism promotes class differentiation. Carl had to defy the orders of the ruling class and focus on his personal adventure. Towards the end of the story, it becomes apparent that the lowly or the working class can overcome the ruling class but only when working together. By working together, Carl, Russel, Kevin and Dug assisted each other and eventually achieved their set goals. Indeed, their collaboration is similar to ‘The Communist Manifesto’ which asserts that proletariats can overcome the barriers set by the bourgeoisie and consequently amass power by working together to achieve common goals.

Works Cited

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The communist manifesto. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.

November 24, 2023

Movies Political Science

Subject area:

Film Analysis Communism

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Expertise Communism
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