When Steve Jobs bought George Lucas’s computer–animation division in 1986 and, in partnership with the Walt Disney Company, turned it into Pixar Animation Studios, none but a handful of true believers thought that CGI (computer–generated imagery) technology would be useful for much more than the creation of special effects for the occasional action Þlm. In a few short years, however, the creative team at Pixar—led by Ed Catmull and John Lasseter—proved that CGI could indeed produce animated Þlms of great beauty and imagination, so long as the fundamentals of narrative filmmaking (story, character, and world) were observed and honored. After making a series of influential short films, Lasseter undertook the production of Toy Story, the first CGI–only feature ever made. It tells the tale of Buzz Lightyear and Woody, two toys who vie for the affection of Andy, the young boy they belong to. It is a comedy/action film, filled with daring adventures and comic exploits, but at its core Toy Story is the tale of two rivals who become friends, as well as a love story about a child and his toys. As Lasseter has so often asserted, Pixar films are not about the technology, but about storytelling. In 2005, in honor of their twentieth anniversary, Pixar and Disney donated the company’s entire library of short and feature–length theatrical films to The Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.
Publication excerpt from In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of The Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 332.