Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
I love crazy film theories, and try to from time to time, share them on the site. Let me first say, crazy film theories don’t have the be the hidden intention of the creator (be it screenwriter, director…etc), and might just be an alternative interpretation of the events. Actually, most times, it is nothing more than a creative interpretation. I always enjoy looking at films with a completely different interpretation, even when it is entirely invented.
That said, you should not read any further unless you have seen Toy Story 3, as it won’t make much sense if you don’t understand the story/plot references, and it will probably spoil important plot points from the film.
So if you’ve seen the movie, and are not afraid to consider a wacky film theory about how Toy Story 3 is really a story about the Holocaust, continue after the jump.
Jordan Hoffman of UGO came up with an interpretation of Lee Unkrich‘s Toy Story 3 which points out the parallels to the Holocaust, Nazi Germany’s systematic state-sponsored extermination of approximately six million Jews during World War II.
Andy is seventeen and about to leave for college. These toys are left behind, just as host nations left behind the Jews as the Third Reich conquered Europe. Woody holds a meeting, where the assembled toy family discusses possible outcomes for their new position in the world. Change a few words and it is the same exact scene at the train station from Roman Polanski’s award winning Holocaust drama The Pianist. No, we won’t just be abandoned. Surely we can be useful to them somehow. Yes, we’ve lost friends (Bo Peep), but surely that can’t happen to us. Buzz Lightyear stands forward and suggests sanctuary IN AN ATTIC. Are you kidding me?
Of course, they end up trapped in a box in the trunk of a car, heading to be donated to Sunnyside Daycare. In this interpretation, Sunnyside is Dachau concentration camp. Wikipedia defines the word concentration as coming from “the idea of concentrating a group of people who are in some way undesirable in one place.” Sounds like Sunnyside right? The toys at Sunnyside are completely composed of undesirables, all sent away as they are no longer needed/wanted in “society”.
Once there, they meet the toy version of Sonderkommando, toys who live the stay fed and well-sheltered (like Ken in his dream house) while leading other toys to a certain death. Newcomers are bashed and abused in the “Caterpillar Room” by non-age appropriate children until they resemble Muselmann and are eventually thrown into the trash chute.
And of course, the trash chute leads they Toys to a giant incinerator at the dump where all the unwanted objects are killed, burnt and put in a landfill. Of course, the toys are saved at the last minute by aliens from another planet (Pizza Planet, that is). Hoffman reads their escape as literal, with the Pizza Planet aliens representing a group of concentration camp prisoners who escape at the last possible second:
Our heroes get saved at the last minute, of course, and they find themselves a new homeland. It is a place where many of their kind already live and have an established foothold, and it would appear that security, finally, is at hand if they are vigilant.
I contacted Jordan about his article and he had something interesting to add:
I had considered the alls-well ending to symbolize the formation of the Israeli state, which is why I called it a “Zionist text” and included a hotlink to Wikipedia’s “The Jewish National Home” tag on their “British Mandate of Palestine.” I suppose you could consider “The Claw” to be the Allied Forces and the Toys’ new home as Israel.
But in a Holocaust interpretation, why take a more literal approach to the events? Approximately six million Jewish men and women died during the Holocaust and not so many got a happy ending. Some people have suggested that the toys actually die in the incinerator at the dump, and that the ending of the film is actually their After Life. According to Wikipedia:
Although Judaism concentrates on the importance of the Earthly world (Olam Ha’zeh — “this world”), all of classical Judaism posits an afterlife. Jewish tradition affirms that the human soul is immortal and thus survives the physical death of the body. The Hereafter is known as Olam Haba (the “world to come”), Gan Eden (the Heavenly “Garden of Eden”, or Paradise) and Gehinom (“Purgatory”).
The toys get the finale they wanted in their after life: to be played with by Andy one final time. I’m not sure how this would by interpreted in Hoffman’s Holocaust reading of the story. The toys new life with Bonnie seems to hint at reincarnation.
The purpose of reincarnation is seen as a chance for a soul to achieve a goal not achieved in a previous life and as a chance to reward man for fulfilling the desires of his Creator.
However, the concept of that reincarnation is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, although some “interpret traditional Jewish practices to refer to reincarnation.” For example, Daniel 12:13 states, “now go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of days.”