Remember what you have seen,
because everything forgotten
returns to the circling winds.
— lines from a Navajo Chant
We usually think that short-term memory loss is a problem of the elderly. In this inventive and thought-provoking 3-D animated Pixar film, Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is a blue tang who is afflicted with this malady as a child. Nonetheless, she's a delight in the eyes of her adoring parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy). They are enchanted by her sweet nature but are frightened by her absent-mindedness. And, indeed, one day the little fish wanders off and disappears.
Dory, now a full grown fish, begins having memories of her parents and becomes desperate to find her way back home again. As she begins this noble quest, we identify with her longing to return to the place where she belongs, a place of peace and security. Throughout her journeys, we connect with her homesickness and cheer her on as she takes creative actions which propel her on the right path.
This friendly blue tang tells everyone she meets: "I suffer from short-term memory loss" and this admission of her disability often draws out their assistance. Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) become her surrogate family as she struggles to keep her spirits up in the face of the disappointments and setbacks.
Others who offer their encouragement and assistance are Hank (Ed O'Neill), a seven-armed octopus; an anxious beluga whale (Ty Burrell); and a bird that provides many timely services when Dory and her band of helpers end up at the Marine Life Institute, a theme park preserve run by an unseen Sigourney Weaver.
Co-directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane have fashioned a fascinating underwater world as the exotic setting for Dory's homeward journey. Although she is often overwhelmed by her feelings of inadequacy, she manages to persevere through the chaos of new places and many different faces. Luckily, this heroine is advised to ask herself "What would Dory do?" and it becomes her personal mantra and a source of self-esteem.
Leaving the theatre, we felt buoyed up by this children's film. And when we returned home we found this quotation from Macrina Wiederkehr which we leave you to simmer in your hearts and minds:
"Look around you. Look well! Invite the 'poet in residence' in your soul to accompany you through this day. There's a whole world of memories out there waiting to be made. Live well, my friend. Stay well. Remember well. Make new memories."