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‘Elemental’ director says his new Pixar film is about ‘thanking’ parents for their sacrifices

via Asia One
  • Filmmaker Peter Sohn revealed in recent interviews that the upcoming Disney Pixar animated film “Elemental” is a reflection of his own experiences growing up as a son of immigrant parents in New York.

  • The story revolves around a fire-elemental woman named Ember and a water-elemental man named Wade who find similarities between them despite their differences.

  • Sohn, whose Korean parents both passed away during the film's seven-year development, said the movie is “about thanking your parents and understanding their sacrifices.”

  • Sohn revealed that his mother did not want him to pursue a career in art because she herself was once an artist.

  • While marrying a non-Korean woman also caused conflict with his parents, they eventually softened up years later.

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“Elemental” director Peter Sohn has opened up about how the upcoming Disney Pixar animated film reflects his own experiences growing up as a son of immigrant parents in New York.

According to the film’s synopsis, the story revolves around a fire-elemental woman named Ember and a water-elemental man named Wade who find similarities between them despite their differences. 

Sohn, whose Korean parents both passed away during the film’s seven-year development, noted in recent interviews that working on “Elemental” has become a personal journey. 

“I am quite emotional about getting the characters and the story out for sure,” Sohn told The Hollywood Reporter in November. “This movie is about thanking your parents and understanding their sacrifices. My parents both passed away during the making of this thing. And so, it is hugely emotional, and I’m still processing a lot of it. But at the same time, there’s so much amazing work that the team has done that I’m quite proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Prior to “Elemental,” Sohn worked on a number of Pixar films, including “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” “Up” and “Luca,” among others. He even voiced characters in some of the films, with the latest being Sox, the scene-stealing robotic cat in “Lightyear.”

In a separate interview with AsiaOne, Sohn revealed that his mother did not want him to pursue a career in art.

“For me growing up, it was just like, anytime I did a drawing, my mom would tear up the paper or break pencils, and say, ‘This is not your future. You can’t do this,’” Sohn was quoted as saying. “And what was so interesting was that she was so violent about it. She was so angry about it that I didn’t understand [why].”

He discovered the heartbreaking reason years later when he found out that she was also an artist in her youth. 

“Because she was a woman in Korea, they wouldn’t give her money to go to art school,” he shared. “They only gave the son, and so she had this part of her life that I didn’t know about.”

Sohn earlier revealed that a part of the characters’ foundation was based on the fact that he married someone that wasn’t Korean, particularly the clashing of culture between the families.

Sohn told AsiaOne that his choice caused conflict with his parents as they originally wanted him to marry a Korean. According to the filmmaker, his father eventually softened a few years later while his mother took a bit longer, noting that “empathy was the key” that opened their hearts. 

“Elemental” will release in theaters on June 16, 2023.

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