Daniel Gerson has passed away today after struggling against brain cancer. Gerson co-wrote scripts such as Monsters Inc., Monsters University and Big Hero 6. He also provided additional story material for the likes of Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. Let’s look back at some of the films he was involved in.
Monsters Inc. is now known as something of a classic. Like the best of Pixar it’s imaginative, funny and surprisingly emotional. Gerson joined forces with Andrew Stanton to craft the final screenplay for the film. What’s amazing about most of Pixar’s films is how clean they feel in their storytelling. So many movies, even the great ones, you can sort of see the seams of the process, but this is not easily found in Pixar’s work. Part of that is the great effort the likes of Gerson put into the script. He also wrote the script for the sequel, Monsters University, and although it’s not in the same league of high-quality sequels such as the Toy Story 2 and 3, it was very worthy of its predecessor. It transformed a lot of the first movie’s pathos into something different and successfully funny and moving, with many memorable hilarious moments of its own.
His latest achievement was the screenplay for Big Hero 6. Much like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Frozen, Big Hero 6 has been seen as its own kind of resurrection for Disney animation, bringing back the sort of quality in storytelling and visuals (albeit CG) that people expected of Disney during its golden era. Big Hero 6 not only is a great superhero movie, but it’s also a great film about friendship. Watching it, I thought that I could see a movie about these characters just hanging out and it still could be a great film, simply because of the quality and appeal of the characters and the world they’re in.
With these films, Daniel Gerson has left his mark in the animation world. His writing collaborations with the likes of Disney and Pixar are a testament to his talent and the nature of collaborative filmmaking that although standard, it doesn’t always leave behind these sort of gems. He will be missed.