See The Classic Movie References Found In Pixar's Greatest Films

By this point we’re all well aware of just how clever Pixar movies are. These aren’t just simple cartoons designed to be aesthetically appealing to the eye. Sure, these films are visual marvels, but they’re also intricate stories, emotionally engaging narratives, and full to overflowing with Easter eggs and references to movies from throughout the history of cinema. A new video collects many of the references to classic films that can be found in the works of Pixar. Some will be obvious, while still other reference and nods may be more surprising.

This five-minute-long video compiled by Jorge Luengo Ruiz runs through the entire Pixar catalog, providing side-by-side evidence of the various nods, homages, and references that can be found in their films. There is one notable absence, however, as A Bug’s Life is not included since, as Ruiz points out, the entire plot is a tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s epic The Seven Samurai. It would be difficult to include an entire movie, to be sure.

These references run the gamut from modern movies like a Mission: Impossible gag that can be found in the Toy Story franchise, to allusions to classics like Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and even Billy Wilder’s Jack Lemmon-starring drama The Apartment. You’ve even got references to various entries from the Star Wars saga, Total Recall, and even Kramer Versus Kramer. Alfred Hitchcock shows up a few times, like with a nod to Vertigo and an almost shot for shot recreation of one of the swarming scenes from The Birds that can be found in Finding Nemo.

Some of these are obvious and readily apparent, like the recreation of the rolling rock scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark in Toy Story, though some are much more subtle. Take the same movie, for instance. When Buzz and Woody must escape from Sid’s house, the carpet is the same color and pattern as the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

This is just one of the references you might not expect to find in what is ostensibly a kid’s movie, but it’s definitely par for the course for Pixar, who wants to keep audiences of all ages alert and engaged and involved in their movies on a number of levels. Another is the chest burster scene from Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror/sci-fi classic Alien, but there’s a nod to that gory situation, and a blatant one at that. Monsters Inc. even features an homage to the wood chipper scene from the Coen Brothers’ modern noir tale Fargo, which is a particularly brutal and unexpected instance.

But these little tips of the cap to the long and varied history of cinema are a big part of what set Pixar movies apart from other animated films, and part of why we love pouring over them with an especially close eye.

Brent McKnight