Pixar’s latest production imagines a city where the four elements live together – or rather, water, wind and earth coexist happily while the newcomers fire is seen as something of an outsider. come after others and try to adapt to their new home, while honoring the traditions of their own culture.
In this setting, the fire girl Ember, who is desperate to impress her parents, meets the cheerful and lucky sailor Wade and despite being unable to touch each other, the pair still fall in love.
Elemental is a story about love, and also about immigration – a very personal story from Korean director Peter Sohn, who has said that the central relationship in the film was inspired by his own. with his American wife.
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While Jurassic World: Dominion actor Mamoudou Athie, who was born in Mauritania and voices the character Wade is upbeat, told Sky News’ Backstage podcast that he also has a personal connection.
“I became a [US] citizens while we make this film,” he explains.
“I remember even before I did Jurassic here [in the UK]I almost couldn’t do it because the COVID situation closed the immigration offices… so I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is crazy’.”
“So making this film as a citizen, while we were thinking about the journey my family went through just to come to the United States to build a life, it was incredibly moving. “
The actor added that his father and mother are also involved in the film’s theme.
“My parents, they saw the movie at the premiere and my dad has seen it twice since,” Athie said.
“It means a lot to them too, so it’s heartwarming to feel that they care as deeply as we do.”
And while immigration is certainly the cartoon’s central theme, actress Leah Lewis, who voices Ember, says that anyone who’s ever wanted parental approval will relate to what the character’s character is all about. she is going through.
She told Backstage: “Everybody has had an experience growing up where you think your parents might want you in some way.
“But everyone is different in that situation and with Ember – and Mamoudou and Peter talking about this all the time, especially given their experience – the debt of gratitude and she wanted to make sure she worthy of all the sacrifices her parents made for her.
“Only to find out that in the end they just want her to be happy, you know?”
Elemental has only just hit theaters in the UK, but was released in the US last month, where it disappointed at the box office.
Taking in around £23 million in its opening weekend, it was the lowest-grossing film in Pixar’s history.
This is the studio’s latest film to have a bad track record, following Lightyear and Onward, with many pointing to the fact that families will now be waiting for the movie to stream on Disney+, rather than racing to see it in theaters.
Despite the muted response, Athie said that working on Elemental and being a part of Pixar’s rich history was a dream come true.
“It was the best,” he said.
“This is exactly what I hope acting was like when I was a kid.
“Working with someone like Peter [Sohn] and Denise [Ream – Elemental’s producer]these animators, who I’ve admired for over two decades, the way we’ve worked on this project with openness and love for the project, for each other – and then you see the project, and then it’s better than you can imagine – it’s the full package of anything you could possibly want.”
While Lewis says that the reaction from those who have seen the film has been really satisfying.
“I feel that the Pixar audience is very pure, honest and loyal,” she added.
“We went to see a few screenings and just saw the little kids getting very excited, but then their parents also said ‘I cried’ and I said, ‘That’s just good storytelling. “
Elemental is now available in UK cinemas – here’s our review in this week’s Backstage – the movie and TV podcast from Sky News.
(c) Sky Bulletin 2023: Behind the scenes with… Pixar’s Elemental cast