Disney’s Strange World Dazzles with Epic Storytelling and Adventure
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new film “Strange World” introduces audiences to a legendary family of explorers, the Clades. Searcher Clade is a successful farmer and devout family man, who, as a teenager, decided upon a different path than his infamous father Jaeger.
Searcher’s dad, Jaeger, set out to become the most famous explorer in the history of Avalonia (the fictional setting of the film). Jaeger pushed Searcher to follow in his footsteps and got lost along the way. After 25 years, Searcher has become his own man and cultivated a miraculous discovery of his own, Pando, a plant that helps power their entire civilization. When Pando and their world comes under threat Searcher is forced to channel his father’s teachings once more to save their way of life.
Starring Dennis Quaid (Jaegar Clade), Jake Gyllenhal (Searcher Clade), Gabrielle Union (Meridian Clade), Lucy Liu (Callisto Mal), Jaboukie Young-White (Ethan Clade). Original Score by Henry Jackman (Falcon and the Winter Soldier, The Gray Man, Ron’s Gone Wrong) and Directed by Don Hall. Co-Director Qui Nguyen and Produced by Roy Conli.
Searcher’s son, Ethan, helps with the farm but also wrestles with the legacy of the family business. This new adventure will bring together three generations of Clades in pursuit of a solution to the crisis that could destroy their livelihoods and legacies.
While Pando is a fictional place; the setting of Strange World is a beautiful allegory for Planet Earth, says director Don Hall. “What started everything was just thinking about my sons and the world they’re going to inherit,” he says. “How is it different from what I inherited from my dad?”
The film leans heavily into the relationships that develop between fathers and sons, particularly how they often see the world in different ways. As men, we often try to forge our own path in life, striving for independence often forgetting how much with have in common with the men who rear us.
This film finds strength in the bond that develops between fathers and sons, and the three generations of Jaegers in this film provide some of the most beautiful moments in a gorgeously animated adventure story.
Co-director and writer Qui Nguyen recalls early conversations with director Don Hall about the story. “The thing that got me was when he said it’s about fathers and sons, ”says Nguyen. “I am also a dad of two kids and I felt like that was exactly what I wanted to be doing. This is a story I needed and wanted to tell.
“We could relate to Jaeger and Searcher when it comes to our kids,” continued Nguyen. “There’s a push and pull between ambition and just being a dad. It’s something almost every artist here at Disney—anyone who’s chasing a big dream—would understand. A big reason why we do it is for them—and, man, we don’t want to lose focus of that. This is the story that I’m going through, the story that Don is going through, and the story our characters are going through.”
“Strange World” is an original action-packed comedy adventure in the spirit of pulp novels. “I always loved big adventure stories,” says Don Hall, “the specific kind of adventure story where explorers find a hidden world that was heretofore unknown to them or anybody else.
And that goes back so far into late 1800s, early 1900s—Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That was sort of the birth of the big adventure story in novel form. ‘King Kong’ is a good film reference that had a group of explorers find a new hidden world. I wanted to evoke that in this movie.”
The film draws so much inspiration from the pulp novels of the early 20th century, moving from page to screen. Avalonia and lush green colors evoke the simple country life and provincial villages of yesteryear. The discovery of the plant Pando revolutionizes the landscape and quickly gives way to a utopian transformation of Avalonia that smacks of Disney Imagineering and Walt Disnesque innovation.
The true beauty of the film however lies in the subterranean Strange World that lies unknowingly below. Filled with exotic creatures and teeming with life and color, it’s where the film truly starts to find its most exciting storytelling. Without spoiling this adventure and some pretty fantastic reveals, let me say that this film is beautiful in both its storytelling and imagery.
Don Hall and the creative team behind Strange World have created a wonderful film filled with adventure that is sure to delight children of all ages. (4 out of 5 Stars)
DON HALL (Director) began his career at Walt Disney Animation Studios in June 1995 as a story apprentice on “Tarzan.” He served as a story artist on several development projects and productions, including “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Chicken Little” before becoming head of story for “Meet the Robinsons” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Hall made his directorial debut for Disney Animation’s “Winnie the Pooh” and went on to direct “Big Hero 6,” which won an Academy Award® for best animated feature film. He then served as co-director on “Moana” and worked on several development projects before his role as director on “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
QUI NGUYEN (Co-Director/Writer) is a Vietnamese-American playwright and screenwriter, who previously wrote with Adele Lim the Academy Award®-nominated Walt Disney Animation Studios feature, “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Known for his shows “Vietgone” and “She Kills Monsters,” Nguyen is an alumnus of Marvel Studios Writers Program and has also written for “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” “The Society,” “Incorporated” and “Peg+Cat,” for which he received a 2016 Daytime Emmy. He is also a co-founder of Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company of New York City—credited for being the “pioneers of geek theatre.”
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