Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Inside Out’ (2015)



They say it takes a village to raise a child. Wait until you meet the community that’s helping grow Riley.

In Peter Docter’s Pixar-animated Inside Out, pre-pubescent Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) has a parental unit (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). But in addition to Mom and Dad, there’s a cadre monitoring her interior well being through a console: outer emotive self-expression is tied to the village-in-her-psyche pressing buttons. In other words, the calm or turbulence of 11-year-old Riley’s feelings – the movie essentially takes place in her head – is mirrored in her real-world emotional behavior.

The members of this interior village who oversee the youngster’s Lunar life work as a team. Joy (Amy Poehler) seems to rule the roost, because what human wouldn’t want to be happy all the time? Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) are also part of the mix. And dragging down her fellow “feeling” compatriots, as well as Riley, is Sadness (Phyllis Smith).

In fact, the risk that Sadness poses as a contaminant of Riley’s core memories – each core memory powers a different part of Riley’s personality – is so great that Joy forbids Sadness from touching containers where those memories are kept. Sadness evokes the proverbial villager whose house is miles from town – a resident, but someone who’s disposable and won’t be missed.



Riley feels geographically remote, too. She’s been removed from her childhood roots in Minnesota because of her parents’ move to San Francisco, so she’s trying to process some sadness of her own. Then a glitch happens within emotional headquarters that catapults both Joy and Sadness away from their team members. The challenge now is not only to get these two polar feeling-opposites – Joy and Sadness – back to that console, but also to restore Riley to a state of emotional wholeness.

What Inside Out – almost a variation on the Hermetic principle of “As above, so below” – accomplishes is to demonstrate that human emotions, which are archetypal energies, must be internally integrated to create equilibrium. In the end, the narrative, no surprise, elevates and embraces Sadness as a necessary and valued component of the psyche.

It’s easy to archetypally identify Joy as radiant Sun, Anger as aggressive Mars, and blue-hued Sadness as cautious, self-deprecating, negative and solitary Saturn. Fear and Disgust have a Saturnine tinge here, too. As energy forms, they all bring something to the table. Bury any one of them at your own risk.

Archetype: Emoter. Feelings.

Astrology Archetype: ☉☽ ♂ ♄ (Sun, Moon, Mars,  Saturn)


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