The single most distinguishing strength of Pixar is its unparalleled storytelling.

For all of its breakthroughs in digital animation, each and every one of Pixar’s films is exemplary in character development, plotting, comedy, drama, and note-perfect climaxes. The stories are rich with moral lessons without being preachy. These strengths shine all the more by the inability of competing studios to match their achievements.

I am sorry to say that the movie world has suffered a grievous loss. Yesterday, the head of Pixar’s story department, Joe Ranft, died in a car crash.

My condolensces to the Ranft family and all who knew and loved him. I feel as if I have lost one of my heroes, and I wish I had formally expressed my thanks to Pixar’s story department in some way before this tragedy, to show him my gratitude for the example he has set for the rest of the industry.

In addition to running the story department, Ranft supplied the voice of Wheezy the Penguin in Toy Story, Heimlich in A Bug’s Life, and Jacques the shrimp in Finding Nemo.


He was 45.

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