Disney is gearing up for the release of its latest animation, Raya and the Last Dragon. The adventure movie tells the story of the titular Raya, who must embark on a journey to discover the last remaining dragon, named Sisu, who is the only hope of uniting the deeply divided land of Kumandra. In an interview with ComicBook.com, the director of the movie, Don Hall, spoke about how the issue of trust became the overarching theme of Raya and the Last Dragon.
"I think the fact that even though it's a fantasy world, the idea of, and we had a very clear visual metaphor for unity, which was the dragon river that it once was one land that fractured into different lands, so we had a wonderful kind of visual metaphor for that. And unity was always sort of the goal, but that was almost an overly broad theme and we felt like to ask ourselves to get to unity what are the obstacles to that and trust felt like it was the most interesting thematic to kind of double down on because you could very easily illustrate and justify a character's point of view on trust."
"For instance Raya, in a broken world you can't trust anyone and she's very justified, I think. As an audience member you're like, 'yeah, I saw what you went through and yeah, I get it.' And then you know, Sisu is of the mind that the world is broken because you don't trust each other and for a good portion of the movie she seems out of touch."
Animation allows for a great deal of freedom and imagination when it comes to illustrating a movie's theme in visual terms. But clever visuals can only take you so far, and the bulk of the message must be relayed by the story itself, especially for younger audiences. On that front, Hall expressed his happiness with the writers of Raya and the Last Dragon, Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, for taking the central theme of trust and embedding it in the core of the script.
"Actually, to achieve that level of thematic unity in a story is this heavy lifting. And it takes story discipline, but it also takes the ability to execute that and do it with heart and with humor and I can't say enough about Qui's [Nguyen] writing in addition to Adele [Lim], you know, being able to execute it on the page because if it's not on the page, it's not going to be in the movie. So, it had to be on the page."
Directed byDon Hall and Carlos López Estrada from a script by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, Raya and the Last Dragon stars Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison and Ross Butler. The film arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access on March 5. This news originated at ComicBook.com.