With disneythe animated sci-fi adventure of “strange world(opening in theaters November 23), the studio reflects on its legacy as it prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. In fact, legacy is the theme of this film about a family of mixed-race explorers venturing into uncharted territory.Clan Clade centers on legendary patriarch Jaeger (Dennis Quade); his farmer son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal); Searcher’s wife, expert pilot Meridian; and their restless teenage son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White).
When director Donation room (the Oscar-winning “Big Hero 6”) gave a 30-minute preview last week at Disney, he mentioned that “Strange World” was influenced by 1930s pulp magazines, authors Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and some of his favorite action-adventure movies. He even compared it to ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ – but with a goofy family straight out of ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’. He acknowledged that “Strange World” looks forward and backward with its core idea of saving the environment.
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“It’s good to recognize that your film has to stay there with [the classics]“Hall told IndieWire. “But you can’t have it in mind. It can inhibit you. You must have that restless mind about what’s next. I think this movie does that. It wasn’t like I walked in and said, “Let’s do it.” We want to push and go a little further with our character designs and in terms of comedy physics. There was a Searcher test that had musicality. It was reminiscent of my love for ‘Johnny Appleseed’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and those post-WWII Disney movies in the ’50s when the studio was at its peak in animation.”
At the same time, Hall wanted to explore bustling uncharted territory, starting with the home of the Clade of Avalonia, a rural community turned metropolis with flying airships, surrounded by a Himalayan-like mountain range. After an energy crisis, the Clades travel to central Avalonia, where they discover a retro-future world full of magenta and yellow-orange landscapes and vegetation, as well as an assortment of faceless creatures reminiscent of dinosaurs and animals. sailors.
“The [environment] could have been a flat, rolling plain,” Hall said. “Nope, [the art department] made it these plateau levels that our characters are going to have to go up and down and more. Additionally, the group of trees making up the plateaus can walk, which required special rigging by the character’s team. “For this movie, a lot of the technology was built around being able to pass any piece of the environment to an animator,” production designer Mehrdad Isvandi told IndieWire.
The toughest animation challenge revolved around a creature the Clades befriend in this underworld: a mischievous 12-tentacled blob named Splat. Splat is like a cross between R2-D2 (voiced by sound designer Shannon Mills) and Mickey Mouse, and definitely one of Disney’s most complex characters to rig. The animators shaped and moved the blobby character in multiple ways. Hall’s only directive was that they could not shapeshift.
“Whatever we do, I always try to anticipate what’s going to be great in animation because I know that’s what they were thinking back then in the 40s and 50s,” Hall said. . “They were looking for potential for their stories and their animation. I feel like one of my main jobs is to shepherd that idea. It is difficult to do this to modernize. You have to design it and it has to be part of your thinking DNA.
From a narrative standpoint, Hall cast Searcher as the protagonist, who must go up against both his father and son to help lead the family legacy. “Searcher more clearly reflects where I am in my life right now,” Hall said. “My sons are in the teenage zone and my dad is a bit older than Jaeger. It was a point of view that seemed to me the most relevant.
Co-director and writer Qui Nguyen (who reunited with Hall after “Raya and the Last Dragon”) told IndieWire that “Strange World” was also personal to him. “It’s a movie that reflects the world I live in, like Los Angeles, where there are people who look different and they’re not all one thing,” he said. “I like to write stories to make the world a better place. We leave a legacy that is not just an enjoyable movie, but making someone’s favorite thing they turn to in times of need, crisis or escape. Producer Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6”) echoed the sentiment regarding the film’s thematic relevance, saying it was “about forgiveness, acceptance and kindness.”
According to Conli, the film’s ties to Disney history extend down to the way “Strange World” was scripted. With digital tablets and storyboard software allowing up to 500 drawings per sequence, the process can get too complicated – by clicking through so many drawings, it can be difficult to know where one image leads to the next. “We tend to overdo it sometimes,” Conli said.
Hall’s solution: no more than 150 panels per sequence, bringing “Strange World” storyboards closer to the physical panels the director worked with as he worked his way up the ladder. This old-school throwback allowed them to quickly iterate and view a sequence at a glance to identify the most important aspects.
“I did not want [the artists] to burn out, especially early on, and we stripped him down,” Hall said. “It was initially an experience and very quickly everyone loved it.” At the suggestion of creative director Jennifer Lee, they also began the storyboard process for “Strange World” earlier than on other films. “It wasn’t the whole crew, but we had fun then, before you were pulled in all directions and asked to think about the story of [a longer view]”Hall said.
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