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(Credit: Disney)

Film

Why 'Toy Story 3' is an allegory about the Holocaust

The existence of bizarre fan theories is almost inevitable when dealing with any popular project, ranging from cult classics such as Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to extremely popular franchises like Marvel. Pixar’s pioneering animated series Toy Story was also subjected to one such line of thought when the third addition to the franchise came out.

Toy Story captured the imagination of children and adults because of its ability to penetrate a secret world inhabited by creatures that seem magical even though those same entities are mundane objects in our eyes. It created a vision of children’s toys that was full of life, delving deep into their deepest desires, fears and insecurities.

While the first film focused on the importance of toys in a child’s life, many felt that Toy Story 3 took a darker turn by showing what happens to discarded toys after the child grows up and moves out of the house. The toys find themselves in a tough spot when they realise that they had been accidentally given away to a daycare centre.

In an interview, director Lee Unkrich explained: “At their core, toys were put on this earth to be played with by a kid, and anything that keeps them from being played with gives them stress and makes them upset. Whether that’s being broken or being lost, but of course the worst thing that can happen to a toy is being outgrown.”

However, some viewers have pointed out that there are more layers to the story than that. According to some, the toys that are left behind are an allegorical representation of the Jewish communities who were abandoned by their countries as the Nazi terror swept through the European continent which led to multiple existential crises.

These crises are present within the film as well, evident in scenes where the toys come together to evaluate their sense of self-worth in a rapidly changing and unfamiliar world. Not just that, Buzz Lightyear also suggests that the toys take refuge in an attic – an obvious reference to the famous diary of Anne Frank.

Despite these parallels, Unkrich claimed that Toy Story 3 was not a dark film at all: “I see that word being used a lot, and I don’t know that it’s entirely accurate. I think they’re using that word to encompass a lot of things. I think the film is more emotional, the film gets more intense at times, and the film is more mature in some ways.”

There also other allegorical strands within the text of the film, including a version of the Sonderkommando who helped the Nazis dispose of Jewish prisoners. In addition, there is also a giant incinerator in Toy Story 3 that burns all the unwanted toys but the main toys of the film series get saved at the very end.

Although some have claimed that the final ending is actually the afterlife of the toys since they were burnt in the incinerator, others have insisted that the political forces of World War II are represented by the bear (Russia) and the claw (Allied Forces). The happy ending of Toy Story 3 hints directly at the formation of Israel which is why the film is seen as an allegorical treatment of the Holocaust as well as a proponent of Zionist ideology.

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