Annecy 2022 – Buzz Lightyear: “In our heads, this film was released 30 years ago in Andy’s world”

Since the Annecy festival, director Angus MacLane talks about the possibility that Disney and Pixar exist in the Toy Story universe and the similarities between his film and Top Gun: Maverick.

Funny movie derived from the franchise Toy Story, Buzz Lightning is supposed to be Andy’s character’s favorite movie. So we meet the first incarnation of the Space Ranger, who has since inspired the toy known to all. After being stranded with his commander and his crew on a hostile planet located 4.2 million light years from Earth, Buzz Lightyear tries to bring everyone home safe and sound. For this, he can count on the support of a group of ambitious young recruits and on his adorable robot cat, Sox. But the arrival of the terrible Zurg and his army of ruthless robots will not make their task any easier, especially since the latter has a very specific plan in mind… Meeting at the Annecy festival with the director Angus MacLane, who had traveled from San Francisco to defend his film.

Okay, let’s get something straight: Buzz Lightning is the movie Andy was a fan of when he was little, OK. If we follow this logic, we must also take literally the card that says “A Disney/Pixar film”, as well as all the end credits. It’s very meta, but it means that Disney and Pixar exist in the universe of Toy Story ?

We don’t stop being asked the question. Yes, Disney and Pixar are believed to exist in Andy’s world. So technically, I’m a Disney character myself. I know, it’s confusing, even from a legal point of view by the way (Laughter.)

We feel that it was complicated to explain to the public what the film is. Moreover, marketing has become much more precise in recent days.

Yeah, we struggled a bit to communicate what the movie is really about, because frankly, it’s still a bit of a weird concept. The easiest way to sum it all up is that it’s Andy’s favorite movie and Buzz Lightyear is in it. In our minds, this movie was released 30 years ago in Andy’s world, but we didn’t want to play the purists and limit ourselves in terms of special effects or write characters in the old fashioned way. It was mostly an excuse to make an action-adventure movie with Buzz Lightyear. A fun story that takes place in space.

Curiously enough, and it’s a pure coincidence of course, but Buzz Lightning made me think a lot about Top Gun: Maverick in its first part, both visually and thematically. The two films seem to dialogue.

Yes yes, we were greatly influenced by Top Gun: Maverickeverything is based on that (Laughs.) I’m kidding of course, we hadn’t seen it but it’s true that it’s fun, these similarities. Well, after that, I think it’s mainly linked to the fact that there aren’t 36 ways to film a guy in a cockpit.

Buzz Lightyear: Light Years From Toy Story [critique]

From a pure character design point of view, how complicated was it to humanize a toy without getting too far away from the Buzz that everyone knows?

Frankly, it was very funny. We actually did the work backwards: we started with a toy and we had to try to imagine what it would be like in the real world. Well, not quite the real world: Andy’s world. We started with Buzz, of course, and once we found his look – we humanized him just enough – then everything else followed: the other humans, his suit, the spaceships… It all started from Buzz’s face.

Every Pixar film is supposed to tell in subtext something about the studio, its evolution or its current state.

Yes quite.

And there, I admit that even while breaking my head, I have trouble finding the message…

The concept of time dilation is a thinly veiled metaphor for the production process at Pixar: during each mission – therefore each film – we are at full throttle, and when we finally raise our heads from our computers, we realize that everyone got a little old. It’s a little joke about how we see our lives. And besides, in animation, we’re like Buzz, we think about the future all the time, but also about what we did wrong in the past and which impacts our present… So I don’t know if Buzz Lightning says a lot about Pixar as a company, but it does say a lot about what it feels like to work on a Pixar movie. And then frankly, Pixar is a totally abstract concept at the moment, since almost all of us are still working remotely because of the Covid. It’s very weird.

Buzz Lightyear, June 22 at the cinema.

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