On Disney+ June 18
Pixar is back, baby! This time the animation studio is rolling the spirit of Italian summer, friendship and magic into one saccharine adventure. Luca marks the feature debut of storyboard artist-turned-director Enrico Casarosa – who’s also the brains behind the Oscar-nominated short La Luna. It tells a coming-of-age story about a boy who experiences his first taste of gelato, pasta, and thrilling scooter rides with his new best pal, which is – lo and behold – a sea monster.
To find out more about this relationship with sea monsters, we chat with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren. Just like many “monsters” featured in animated films, including Wolfwalkers, the sea monsters in Luca are inspired by folklore. “The one thing I have a lot of affinity with is stories with changelings, where something appears one way, but there's a whole other side to it. I've always loved folklore. In Ireland, there’s the selkie, which are stories about seals that can show up as ladies,” Enrico tells us. “In Liguria, where I grew up, there’s a lot of dragons. When we did the research, [it’s believed that] fishermen made up tall tales to defend their favourite [fishing] spot.”
“I always loved these kinds of stories. And when I think back about my friendship and growing up in that moment – where you don't know what's going on – [it feels] like you don't fit in, your body is changing, and there's just so many of these feelings of feeling out of place,” he continues.
Talking about “feelings of feeling out of place,” the story of Luca is told from the perspective of outsiders (aka sea monsters) who are curious about life on land. Think moving across continents and experiencing culture shock, but with a whole lotta curiosity. “With Luca, there’s a metaphor there. We left it kind of open as a sea monster – like he feels like an outsider 'cause he's a sea monster – but it's open for anybody to relate to that character and the story. I think that the message here is a lot about curiosity, friendship, bridging those differences and connecting,” Andrea shares with us.
It also mirrors the viewers’ experience of seeing a new world through a different lens. “There’s something about the wonder to surprise the trepidation of someone experiencing something for the first time. You can experience nature this way or you can experience this lovely little Italian village with this wonderful kid,” Enrico points out.
Luca isn’t your average Pixar film either – its look and pace are slightly different. “It’s more artistic, more expressionistic. Like a dive into the illustration of a kids’ book,” says Enrico. If anything, Luca is kind of like the “underdog” of Pixar. “I think the other way we felt like underdogs this year was trying to make a movie from our houses. It was really challenging and a whole new puzzle to sort out,” adds Andrea.
When describing Luca, Andrea beautifully sums it up with: “[It's] like falling into one of those old postcards or storybooks, and just being really immersed in that world.” Plus, you get to witness a slice of Enrico’s childhood home on the Italian riviera from your own sweet digs via Disney+ from June 18.