Elemental: Filmmakers on the personal appeal of Pixar’s latest as tickets go on-sale

You can now buy tickets for Pixar’s Elemental, which ranks as one of the most personal projects ever put out by the studio.

Pixar’s latest, Elemental, is set to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 27th (watch the new tv spot above). You can now buy tickets for their much anticipated animated epic, which depicts a city populated by anthropomorphic elements of nature, including fire, water, earth, and air. In this city, an unlikely romance arises between two opposing elements, Ember (Leah Lewis), a fire element, and Wade (Mamoudou Athie), a water element. The two don’t seem like they should mix, but the chemistry between them, which starts off as adversarial but quickly grows into friendship (and more), is right from the start. In many ways, this is like Pixar’s version of a romantic comedy, albeit with an epic scope and themes that will surely resonate with many viewers. 

Recently, we had the chance to visit Pixar in San Francisco, where we were shown a few extended sequences from the film, which you can read about here. I also had the chance to sit down with the movie’s director, Peter Sohn, and the producer, Denise Ream. According to Sohn, who also directed The Good Dinosaur for Pixar (and voiced the cat robot Sox in Lightyear), the movie was a very personal project for him. Sohn is the child of Korean immigrants, and in the film, Ember’s family are shown to be new arrivals to Element City, torn between trying to assimilate into the new culture and maintaining their own cultural identity. However, Sohn noted that many of us feel this way, as the United States, after all, is a country of immigrants. But, for him, the story, which he helped develop over many years, was closely influenced by his family. 

“I didn’t know my identity growing up. I had a shame of being Korean when I was a kid, you know? And then, that sort of pride started growing the older I got, and that was through my parents and understanding their sort of sacrifices of how much they gave up of their culture. There was a literal line for my mother where she would stop assimilating, meaning like, ‘Mom, you should learn a little more English,’ and she’d be like (in Korean), ‘I’ve learned enough. I don’t need to go all the way there ’cause I’m Korean.’ You know? So a lot of those themes just sort of were bubbling up through the years… On the press tour for The Good Dinosaur, I remember someone asking me like, ‘Do you consider yourself Korean?’ This was a Korean who asked me this. And I remember going like, ‘No, I don’t. I’m Korean-American.’ These are the pieces of me and so forth, and for Ember, that’s a big part of our journey in the film. It all sort of came from that place.”

It was also a very personal project for the movie’s producer, Ream, who is the daughter of Irish immigrants and felt moved by the other core relationship in the film (other than Ember and Wade); Ember and her father, Bernie, voiced by Pixar animator Ronnie del Carmen. 

“I mean, I always loved when Pete would describe his story as ultimately also a love story about a father and daughter. I think that that really did strike me. I feel like I looked at my parents kind of through a different lens, honestly, thanks to working on this movie. I didn’t really know much about where my people came from.”

Like many other Pixar movies, it pushes the form of animation, with Sohn noting that the concept for the film came from him doing pencil and ink drawings (many of which we saw around the Pixar campus) that promised a very different kind of animated film. 

“As an animator, you just want to do something and animate something that you haven’t animated before…Someone said like, you could do this in mocap. I’m like, no, you couldn’t do this in Mocap. It was a friend of mine that I always debate with, and once he said that I was like, I would want this to be so far from mocap that you could never even, you couldn’t figure it out. It had to be done by hand, you know?”

To note, to animate Elemental, it took 151,000 computers, as opposed to the 290 it took for Toy Story in the mid-nineties. Sohn also hopes audiences enjoy the movie in 3D, with the animation especially impressive in that format based on what we were shown. Sohn notes that the process has grown a lot since Pixar first started experimenting with it, with him noting that initially, their 3D was sort of “soft” and “behind the screen.” With Elemental, and its fantastical characters, the 3D comes bursting out of the screen in a way that’s probably only really been done in a comparable way in Avatar: The Way of Water, so fans eager to check out Elemental should do so in the 3D format, even if they don’t usually like watching movies that way.

Elemental hits theatres on June 16th. 

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/elemental-tickets/

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