Analysis / Toy Story
The Life and "Death" of a Toy
Say what you will about the first movie (what with all those mutant toys
and Uncanny Valley
humans), but Toy Story 3
was the trilogy's darkest installment. Many may dismiss the reason for this as solely because the third movie was aimed toward those that saw the original Toy Story
in theaters fifteen years ago and grew up with the series - not only could the now-adolescent audience appreciate deeper themes such as abandonment and Character Development
, but if the final installment in the series didn't exceed the standards set by the previous two, then it would be a grave disappointment for the audience. However, there is more to this than Sequel Escalation
. This was more than a mere adventure for the toys - their life with Andy, and their life metaphorically, ends
in this film. The entire movie was symbolic of the afterlife, and the choices the toys make determine their ultimate fate.
The Attic: Purgatory
When Sheriff Woody
reminds the other toys that they still belong to Andy, he neither sugar-coats the facts nor suggests that Andy didn't want them anymore - he just tells it like it is. In a sense, Andy has "suspended judgement". Woody correctly says that Andy's not certain to have children, but it was
a possibility. If not, however, the toys would most likely get thrown out after lord knows how long. So the attic is a standby phase of sorts, where the toys have ended their life with Andy and are now awaiting their fate. (Of course, the trials they go through in the movie are almost certainly a standby phase in and of themselves.)
The Butterfly Room: Heaven
Alternately, it's a cool and groovy retirement home. A place where they will be cared for, have many supportive toys to talk and attend to them, and perhaps exist indefinitely as they will get repaired because of these friends.
However, in the hands of the twisted monster, they are denied this afterlife, and instead end up in...
The Caterpillar Roomnote
A land where they are "tortured" by rough play, disfigured, and because the toddlers are so young, they can't really bond with any of them or any of the other toys. Survival is the name of the game, and a cruel leader keeps them against their will in this situation.
Tri-County Landfill: No Afterlife
The darkness and claustrophobia, the fire of the incinerator, Lotso's
taunt of "Where's your kid now?note
"... It's obvious what Pixar
was symbolically invoking, but from another perspective, the dump is more like the concept of no life after death rather than Hell.
- Alternate Interpretation: Gehenna
The toys are in The Caterpillar Room for a finite time. Their ultimate fate is total destruction in the incinerator or being buried and compressed for eternity in the landfill. Historically, Gehenna refers to a literal garbage dump where fires were kept burning constantly to prevent the spread of disease. The final fate of the damned is to be cast into Gehenna, where "their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched." In the landfill, the toys will either be buried alive and fully conscious (and perhaps be surrounded by worms, but never consumed because they're plastic) or fed into a fire that never goes out.
Being Given To Another Child/The Reformed Day-Care: Reincarnation/New Heaven & Earth
may eventually face the same dilemma when Bonnie grows up, but until then, they will enjoy the pleasure of new friends and a new owner.