Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
Over the three movies there are many different scenes from the Toy Story trilogy which could qualify for “greatest” but none evoke such a reaction as this one. After three movies, all of which as good as the last, Toy Story 3 seems to do what none could comprehend. Andy is growing up, the toys are “left behind,” seemingly forgotten and then came The Incinerator. For a minute and thirty seconds, which felt like a lifetime, the fans of the Toy Story characters were sure this was their final, proper end.
Greatest Scene Number 13: Toy Story 3 – Holding Hands
Toy Story 3 is as good as the first two movies and just as they do, it slowly builds to a great, action-packed climax. This time it is a chase through a landfill, which ends with the toys falling into an incinerator.
The scene starts with a cruel twist. It looks like cuddly villain Lotso could save them until he decides to walk away from the “kill switch” and let the toys burn in the furnace. Even then, as a viewer you can’t help but think they aren’t in real danger but then Pixar plays a very cruel trick.
The toys begin to fall down with the rest of the garbage, with Woody saving Rex from toppling into the flames. It is then that the real emotional gut-punch begins. The toys, led by Buzz giving his best, saddest eyes, grabbing Jessie’s hand with look of resolute acceptance.
This hand holding then begins to spread through the group, each toy grabbing hold of another. All of this down to the final connection, between the two toys who’s friendship has come the furthest, as Buzz holds his hand out for Woody. It is then that we get the wide shot, taking in all the toys as they slowly lower towards the fire.
This scene is a perfect example of what Pixar does best. Pixar knows emotion and their animation has moved on so far that this scene is done wordlessly. The fear, acceptance and reassurance is all told in the actions and more specifically, eyes of each character.
The real impact was the fact that the descent lasts longer than any audience is comfortable with. When you watch this for the first time you can’t help but feel that they could actually die. Almost everyone at some point, watching the toys accept their fate, thinks that this could be the most definite and cruelest ending to the trilogy.
Of course the toys can’t die and Pixar actually save them in such a perfect way. It is especially satisfying because of who saves them, how they are saved and the fact that everyone will have forgotten about the little aliens and the garbage “claw.”
Overall, the reason the holding hands scene is so effective because it really sells the peril of the characters. The feeling of acceptance and the way they stand together, staring death in the face, will pull at anyone’s heart-strings. Of course they won’t die, even Pixar couldn’t end the trilogy that way, but for a second, just a second, you believe they might. That is the reason this scene is one of the greatest.
Ps. The scene I found is in German (?) I think. I couldn’t find an English language one to embed.