“Here, tomorrow is today. And yesterday is forever.”
This snippet from Disney’s theme-park narration is the jumping off point for Josh Spiegel’s new book “Yesterday is Forever: Nostalgia and Pixar Animation Studios” (now available from The Critical Press), which examines the pining for the past that’s marked Pixar’s innovative work since the release of “Toy Story” two decades ago.
As in the above video essay, Spiegel, managing editor of Movie Mezzanine and co-host, with Gabe Bucsko, of the Disney movie podcast Mousterpiece Cinema, reconsiders Disney and Pixar films in light of the vogue for nostalgia that’s sustained the booming market for comic book blockbusters and TV remakes alike. It’s not only Pixar’s technological achievements that have reshaped the recent cinema, he argues, but also its longing for simpler times, whether the idyllic childhood of “Toy Story” or the midcentury open roads of “Cars.”
“Nostalgia is the renewable fuel of modern popular culture, an invisible perpetual motion machine,” Spiegel says. “Audiences are less concerned with the actual experience of a nostalgic piece of pop culture as long as it reminds us of what we loved as kids.”