Dir – Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich (co-director)
Year – 2000
Running Time – 100 Mins
Screen Writing Genre – Golden Fleece (Buddy)
Finding Nemo marks the moment that animated films managed to cross the divide and show that just because something is animated it can still be taken seriously as a film. The cute aesthetics mask what is actually a pretty horrific and mature story line. If the story of a man’s family being slaughtered then his only remaining son being kidnapped, imprisoned and then given away as a slave was presented with real people it would make for a harrowing movie.
What’s in a Name?
Finding Nemo is a great name for the film. It not only plays on the name of Captain Nemo but sets the tone of the film well and we know pretty much what we are in for. The title is also memorable which has helped keep the film in peoples minds to this day.
What makes it Great?
The mature storyline and stunning visuals are backed up by an exceptional script and it is this which really makes the film a classic. The dialogue between all the main characters portrays a subtlety and sensitivity that is hard to find. This all helps the characters become memorable and shows that even when your leading protagonists are small fish they can still fill a screen.
The score and framing of the scenes is also exceptional and portrays the feeling of two small fish alone in a very big ocean to perfection. It all comes together to portray a living breathing underwater world.
Finding Nemo as a ‘Golden Fleece Buddy’ Movie.
Finding Nemo is a fairly straightforward Golden Fleece movie. Our main character is Marlin, he is searching for his son (who is the fleece), and on the way he will meet Dory (the Buddy), along with others. These friends will help him to learn lessons that will change him for the better by the end of the film.
Opening Image (1) – We start with Marlin and Coral moving into the neighbourhood with their kids.
We have the ‘kill the cat’ moment when Marlin finds the one remaining egg and we side with him due to his commitment and horrific loss.
Theme stated (5) – The theme comes on 4 minutes and revolves around the line “I promise I won’t let anything happen to you”. Out theme is about knowing when to let go and it is this Marlin will discuss and consider as he searches for Nemo.
Catalyst (12) – Around minute 12 the boat comes into play and Nemo and his friends start seeing how close they can get. Nemo then swims out to sea and gets captured after discussing the theme again with Marlin.
Debate (12-25) – The debate comes mainly with him asking other fish for directions so he can find the ‘right way to go’. He also finds Dory here and discusses what he is looking for. This also starts the running gag about Dory and her bad memory.
Break into two (25) – You can argue where the break into two comes. It is either at minute 15 when Marlon leaves the reef to go into the ocean or, I would suggest, at minute 19 when Bruce the shark takes Marlin and Dory through the mine field as we are now in a more dangerous world.
B Story (30) – At minute 24 Nemo is put in the fish tank the ‘rites of passage’ B story begins.
Fun and Games (30-55) – So now we get the promise of the premise as we have our two little fish fighting through the ocean in comedic Buddy movie style and Nemo and his rag tag gang of fish trying to break out of the tank. Darla is introduced and acts as the ‘time clock’ as we now know Nemo must be found or escape within a few days.
Midpoint (55) – Dory is hurt by the jelly fish. Now the fun and games are over, Dory being hurt acts as a very short ‘bump in the road’ and we get a new thing added at minute 49 with the introduction of the turtles.
There is more theme discussion at minute 52 between Marlin and Crush.
Bad Guys Close In (55-75) – Nemo’s escape attempt fails and Darlo draws ever closer. Marlin and dory are trapped in a whale.
Inside the whale there is more discussion of the theme between Marlin and Dory with Marlin eventually trusting her. With the acceptance of the words “It’s time to let go” Marlin is ready to continue with his adventure.
Nigel acts as our booster rocket when he meets Marlin.
All is Lost (75) – The all is lost moment comes on minute 76 when Marlin thinks Nemo is dead.
Dark night of the Soul (75-85) – Marlon mourns Nemo and decides to split from Dory.
Break into Three (85) – Marlon enters the fishing ground.
Finale (85-110) – The finale is the tuna fish net. Here Marlin has faith in Nemo and Nemo uses the knowledge he has learned to save the day in a wonderful piece of A/B story synergy.
Final image (110) – We are back at school with Marlin a now much transformed character. We end on the image of an open ocean for to be explored. This is the opposite of the confided reef we started with.