As the Toy Story franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary, how was the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear and Woody stolen?

Buzz Lightyear is 40 years old. He’s a proud member of the Spix’s Caper, one of the most valuable in his team’s game portfolio. And he’s basically invincible. That’s all science fiction. With today’s…

As the Toy Story franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary, how was the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear and Woody stolen?

Buzz Lightyear is 40 years old. He’s a proud member of the Spix’s Caper, one of the most valuable in his team’s game portfolio. And he’s basically invincible.

That’s all science fiction. With today’s release of a new trailer for the forthcoming Toy Story 4, audiences are getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the true origins of the “wuz robbed” toy that has literally become a worldwide symbol of heroism. As we learn from Pete Docter, who co-wrote and directed the upcoming movie, Toy Story was inspired by the Cocteau films that were part of Disney’s “French Riviera” program, beginning in the mid-60s. All of that world was eventually incorporated into what would become Toy Story: characters like Woody and Buzz don’t look like their commercial counterparts.

But where Pixar took its characters and crafted them into something new, notably with 3D graphics and the introduction of the objects that populate the Toy Story trilogy, Docter chose the original narrative of the French language films when he told Pixar co-founder and CEO John Lasseter about the inspiration for his own vision of Toy Story. “Basically, it started from a whole world I visited in Mont St. Michel, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” Docter told Gizmodo.

“There’s a musical garden — there’s not a piano or a clarinet, but there’s a bunch of trumpets and trombones. It was really beautiful,” he said. “I had discovered this strange song, I don’t know how to describe it, but you would just hear this odd, haunting kind of music that hadn’t been recorded. It was these really fat trombones — they don’t sound like anything at all, but they play this really weird harmony. And I saw these French people playing these drums that weren’t even drums at all, but just these big, big skins — there was no music to make these drums. And these things, because of all these diabolical pranks being played on all these instruments, these things don’t really work.”

Since he’s the only one who speaks French, Docter asked Lasseter to help translate this “magic” into a Toy Story film and Toy Story’s dialogue. Their script, written together, borrowed the setting of Mont St. Michel and its magic music, and turned it into a whacky yet ultimately hopeful and aspirational adventure. Here’s hoping the real Cocteau films finally see the light of day…

With Toy Story 4 in theaters on June 21, you can watch the new trailer below.

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