Coming this Thursday is Valentine’s Day, a time for love and romance. But for my blog, it is perhaps a time to dwell on the philosophy of love. So starting from today will be a series of posts on the philosophy of love. We will be looking at love from many different perspectives, from ancient Greeks to the mastermind Shakespeare.
For just today however, I would perhaps like to look from the perspective of a film creator. Check out this animated Pixar short called “Paperman.”
Pretty good film to watch on Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? This is perhaps the best short film I have ever seen. Not only that, this film is the exact representation of a typical person’s ideal form of love.
First, let us analyze this film. Obviously, this film is showing us the events that leads to a formation of a love relationship. But what exactly brings these two to encounter each other? Two things, from looking at the very beginning- the wind caused by the train and of course the paper. I would like to say it is these two things that are the most dominant themes in this film.
We can start off with the train. In the beginning at one scene, we see the girl suddenly leaving the boy and boarding the train and then looking out to the boy from the train window. It is as if because of this train, the boy and girl are split apart and that all chances for a relationship are doomed. Yet, at the end of the film, it is this very same train that brings both characters back together and at the very same setting. Perhaps this train symbolizes the fact that unlike time, which is one-way, love can always be made again. The fact that you broke up with a guy does not mean that you are not able to love that guy anymore; in other words, there is always a second chance for love.
So if it is not the train who seeming splits the boy and girl up in the beginning, then what is the thing that is doing this? Perhaps the answer is the fact that the boy and girl are on different courses. So in order for a relationship to get going, the boy and the girl must get onto the same course. This is where the papers come into play.
The papers could symbolize the boy’s job. Usually one’s life consists mostly of his or her job, so in a sense the papers also represent the boy’s life. Notice how the papers are all blank and and full of boring words; this can be translated into the fact that the boy’s life is nothing interesting. Until he met the girl. When the girl leaved her lip imprint on the paper, what essentially happened was the girl leaving her imprint on his life. He could have just thrown the paper away and not care about the imprint, but rather he kept it, dreamed about it, and even saved the paper when it was about to fly out the window. Even though he was physically separated from the girl, he was emotionally attached to her.
In one scene, while staring at the imprint, the boss comes and drops a stack of paper onto his desk. The boy looks up unhappily. Here, the boy is being pushed up against the realities of life. Yet, the boy does not submit to this reality. Rather, he sees the girl in the opposite building, and folds all those papers into airplanes and tries to fly it to her window to catch her attention. Remember that these papers symbolize his life. By folding up all the papers he was supposed to work on, he in a sense is sacrificing not only his job but (through symbolization) sacrificing his whole life just to catch that girl’s attention. Eventually, he even defies his own boss and one can no doubt infer that he will be fired. This demonstrates the philosophical view that love is blind, in which one will sacrifice anything just for love.
I also like how when the boy tries to throw the airplanes at her. It sort of reminded me about Cupid’s arrows, but in this case the boy’s arrows are lame and futile; he is not able to attract the girl’s attention. Yet, in the end, the boy does get the girl’s love. How? Well, the boy didn’t do anything at all. Rather, it was the wind that did it. To me, there are two lessons here. One- the more you try to get love, the more you won’t get it. Rather, just let love naturally come to you. Two- the common view of love in which it involves destiny. In other words, the wind symbolizes destiny. If the wind had not blown the way it did, then perhaps the boy would have never met the girl again. (By the way, even the music gives a sense of destiny, too.)
I would also like to analyze the situation in which the airplanes magically came to life. Where did the airplanes start doing that? In a hidden dark alley; similarly, perhaps love starts within the greatest depths and unnoticed corners of our hearts. The paper airplanes aka Cupid’s arrows symbolizes the boy’s love. So when the airplanes became alive, the director is trying to show us that our love will become more manifest all the way to the point that our loves “become alive” and that everybody can see it. Just as how the planes nagged the boy, similarly our own love will start nagging us into seeking out the girl more.
I will conclude here. But basically, the philosophy of love shown here is that love can cause us to do outrageous things, that love is not one-way, that love is based on destiny, that love will become more manifest and will nag and annoy us, and that love can forever change one’s life.