Every now and then, a film comes along that divides opinion, a movie that contains hidden meaning or significance. Planes are one of them…
Things you didn’t know about Pixar Planes
Whether you rank Planes amongst the best aviation movies of all time is up to you. If you did, you would not be alone but may also face some scrutiny for this opinion. It can be a divisive film for many reasons. However, what you cannot deny is that there is a certain element of mystery surrounding it because, as revealed by Director, Klay Hall and Producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn in multiple media outlets since its inception, Planes are not as straightforward as many people believe.
Something for Everyone
Plane enthusiasts (obvious reasons), and cultural romantics alike (After the third leg of the race to Agra in India, Ishani invites Dusty to fly around the Taj Mahal and advises him to fly low through the Himalayas) appreciate this movie for contrasting reasons. The global presence of the characters in all likelihood will resonate with mass audiences worldwide as representation from all corners of the earth features prominently. The majority of the plot hones in on the around-the-world race, which enables them to incorporate characters with diverse personalities and rich histories. There will be others, an online bingo player sitting at home for example that will love the thrills and risks combined with the near-perfect graphics and stunning aesthetics encapsulated in this film. So, what have we uncovered that may have slipped under the radar for Planes enthusiasts?
Not all film inspiration comes from the bright lights of Hollywood. James Bond, Marvel, and D.C Comics will all have their own sources of creativity. The Midwest was chosen as the setting for Disney’s Planes, partly because of the huge range of aviation experience found in this area of America.
Propwash junction resembles a rural backdrop with weathered buildings. Small touches like this should come as no surprise as filmmakers made it a priority to visit the aviation knowledge epicenters of places like Minnesota, Ohio, and North Dakota to absorb, as much of the genuine feel as possible during their research periods. It was during these observation trips that two of the film’s key characters emerged after a chance conversation with a Navy veteran (Skipper) and coming across a cornfield that had an old fuel truck parked nearby (Chug).
This film was not just thrown together nor made to rely on the skills of a few graphic designers or the inclusion of some fancy animation tricks to spark people’s interest and catch the eye. The realism on display in the movie is no fluke and the authenticity brought to the big screen is no coincidence. The finer details of every aviation aspect were sought, uncovered, and implemented into the fabric of design in an attempt to illuminate the origin of the story being showcased for mass audiences.
The filmmakers met with and drilled aviation experts with countless questions from angle of flight, how each plane could react in separate circumstances, and the accuracy of their storytelling plans when matched to reality. Disney’s Planes was built on solid foundations from the world’s best aviation minds to ensure the complex and fascinating manoeuvres and mannerisms displayed by each Plane were as authentic as possible. It shows great respect for the viewer’s intelligence that the creative team was willing to go to such lengths to get seemingly minor details right.
Industry experts from aviation movies and airplane pilots and manufacturers themselves were brought in as consultants and special counsels as no stones were left unturned in the preparation for making this movie. This included comprehensive studying of some of these but not limited to these areas;
- Helicopter flights
- Hot air balloons
- World War II bombers
- Various jet and civilian aircraft
- visits to air shows
- Air museums
- Small-town airports
Pixar, but not Pixar?
Pixar had very little involvement in the filmmaking process of the original story. Cars may have inspired it but those knowledgeable views it as more of a spin-off and are reluctant to accept Planes as any kind of sequel despite the similarities. The resemblances are uncanny and cannot be denied but it is too simplistic to assume the continuation of cars was the origin of Planes. Filmmakers were able to access and reference specific artwork and other key resources for continuity purposes so the link is definitely there but Pixar was not directly involved at all. In fact, the original plot was going to be about trains not planes until a key intervention from the Executive Producer, John Lasseter changed the landscape of the film forever and Planes was born. He had been working on a train project but reconsidered and went with his aviation passion and the film was based on the air, not the train track.