By Staff Writer Elaheh Khazi
Disney’s highly anticipated new movie, Strange World, was released in theaters on November 23. The animation documents the journey of the Clades, a family of explorers trying to save their home. With a heartwarming message incorporating elements of previous sci-fi films and pulp magazines, the touching movie communicates strong motifs about accepting others, diversity, and environmentalism.
Set in the fantasy world of Avalonia, the film’s opening scenes, a flashback, introduce the Clades: Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) and Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal), a father-son duo trying to find a way over the mountains that border Avalonia. Searcher Clade returns to Avalonia with a discovery while Jaeger Clade continues his journey. Years later, Searcher is married to Meridian Clade (Gabrielle Union) and has a son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White). The movie follows their expedition to find out what affects Avalonia’s crops. Throughout the film, the message of accepting others is strongly pushed. For example, Jaeger Clade cannot accept that Searcher Clade does not want to be an explorer. This disagreement is what leads to them falling apart. 25 years later, Searcher Clade does the same with his son, Ethan, who wants to be an explorer. In the finale, the Clades are able to put their differences aside during their expedition and finally accept each other. Another motif that is stressed is the diversity of characters. Though it is not formally discussed, there is diversity and inclusion of different races, sexual orientations, and relationships. When Jaeger Clade returns, he does not comment or even seem surprised that his son is in an interracial marriage. He is friendly towards his daughter-in-law and is happy his son married a strong woman like her. Strange World normalizes these relationships and the diversity in its characters throughout the film.
Furthermore, the movie has an environmentalist viewpoint as the land of Avalonia is a living creature harmed by the crops farmers grow. Ultimately, many farmers stop growing these crops to save the environment. This message reflects Earth’s reality and what may occur to our planet as climate change’s impact increases. Highlighting this message in the film brings awareness to Earth’s current state and influences the audience to be like the Clades. However, the movie does have its shortcomings. The lack of music is one of the movie’s drawbacks, disappointing viewers, as other Disney movies tend to have outstanding musical elements. Nevertheless, the setting of Avalonia, its creative landscape, and the influence of science fiction classics and pulp magazines make up for this shortcoming. The originality of the characters in the strange world the Clades explore is phenomenal. The vivid colors and diverse animation styles encompass watchers as they are introduced to new creatures and places. Additionally, the film draws from science fiction pieces, such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, as it has a similar plot line and focuses on adventure. These elements from classic sci-fi films make up for the lack of music in the movie.
Although Strange World does not live up to other Disney classics, it tells a story of great importance about acceptance and the environment. With a heartfelt plot centered on selflessness and embracing others, Disney’s Strange World is a compelling film for viewers of all ages to enjoy.
Images via Disney