Disney Animation Studios are bringing us a whimsical tale of adventure and family bonds in their upcoming film Strange World. In a film that looks to push the boundaries of animation art, it also comes with nods to nostalgic adventure stories of the past, so where is this inspiration originating from?
The film’s teaser trailer was released in June this year, and it left fans blown away by the stunning visuals and artwork that the movie looks set to offer. Directed by Don Hall with Qui Nguyen writing and co-directing, the film revolves around a family of intrepid explorers, although not everyone in the family wants to be a part of the family business. Searcher Clade is the primary protagonist of the story, a man who eschewed adventuring for a living instead seeking out a peaceful life farming finds himself thrust into another one of his family’s wild adventures in a… strange world.
The world is full of oddities and impossible things such as moving mountains, flying alien manta ray creatures, and part dinosaur part plant-looking entities roaming the plains. Hall and Nguyen have worked together before, directing and writing the film Raya and the Last Dragon, a film that also had a lot of imagination and whimsy, inspired by Asian myth and culture. Strange World is a little different, with Hall citing pulp magazines as one of the biggest sources of inspiration for the film. Speaking with Variety the director said,
“I loved reading the old issues of pulps growing up. They were big adventures in which a group of explorers might discover a hidden world or ancient creatures. They’ve been a huge inspiration for ‘Strange World.'”
Pulp magazines were popular fiction stories printed on inexpensive wood pulp paper. Many famous fantasy and science-fiction authors either got their start in pulp magazines or enjoyed writing their stories for the cheap magazines, these include notable authors Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Agatha Christie, and H. P. Lovecraft amongst many, many others.
The film blends the science fiction aspect of the stories told with a splash of early 20th-century industrial design for the main characters thrown in for good measure. Even the voiceover for the trailer makes use of the old-timey influence.
The cast so far sees Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade, with family members Meridian Clade, Jaeger Clade, and Ethan Clade voiced by Gabrielle Union, Dennis Quaid, and Jaboukie Young-White respectively. Lucy Liu is also on board as Callisto Mal and Allan Tudyk will also be involved, though his character is not yet known.
The film’s release is coinciding with Thanksgiving Day, with Disney seemingly dominating the market at this time with past releases of Frozen, Coco, Moana, and Frozen II released around the same time in their respective years. Last year’s Thanksgiving release, Encanto, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animation. Hall and Nguyen’s Raya and the Last Dragon was also nominated.
Strange World seems to want to keep up the precedent, releasing in theatres on November 23, 2022.