If there's one movie in the history of all cinema that can break your heart and force tears from your eyes in the span of ten minutes, it's Disney-Pixar's Up!. Anyone who's seen the movie knows exactly what I'm talking about; the movie gets that emotional, that quickly.
A charming tale about an old man who decides to embark on an adventure in his flying house (pulled by balloons, of course), you would assume that the idea behind Up! came from the brain of some Hollywood screenwriter or the like, as with every feature film.
But the concept behind 2009's Up! was actually created by a duo right here in Montreal, over twenty years before the film's release.
Michel Faure and Joyce Borenstein are the couple (in the professional, not romantic sense) in question, who developed a children's book together in 1983 when they were both professors at Concordia University.
Titled Mr. Zuko Takes Flight, the children's book (written by Faure, illustrated by Borenstein) features the story of an old Montreal banker who, out of his love for balloons, attaches enough to his house that it eventually begins to fly, and then goes on an adventure to an animal-filled island with his parrot-pal Mimi.
Sounds a bit familiar, right?
But while Up! was a major success, publishers weren't all that interested in Mr. Zuko's story when Faure and Borenstein shopped the semi-complete book around in the 80s.
And so the children's story was put on permanent hold, that is, until the pair saw their design and concept being used for a major motion picture.
As you would assume, Faure and Borenstein didn't let the blatan plagiarism slide. A legal battle ensued, with Disney-Pixar deciding to settle with Faure and Borenstein out of court.
There is a silver lining to the whole debacle, however, as the event prompted Faure and Borenstein to finally finish Mr. Zuko Takes Flight and self-published the book in 2014. You can even order it on Amazon right now.
Zuko's story will continue, too, and with plans to set the story in Montreal. Faure commented in an interview with the Canadian Jewish News that the sequel will feature Zuko brining back some of his animal pals to Montreal during the winter, with Borensten handling the illustrations once more.
Source: Canadian Jewish News