‘Elemental’ shares journey of immigrant parents

Peter Sohn, the director of 'Elemental' said the movie borrowed from the experiences that his immigrant parents had while living in New York.

Pixar’s latest animated offering ‘Elemental’ directed by Peter Sohn has been released in the U.S. and India on June 16. Days later, Sohn’s handwritten letter wherein he dedicated the movie to his parents was shared on Twitter on Pixar’s official handle.

Sohn is the son of South Korean immigrants who met each other in the U.S. and fell in love. The movie took seven years to make and had a lot in common with the lives of Sohn’s parents. In several interviews, the director mentioned how he always turned to them for research and asked them about life in Korea and what led to their decision of arriving in the U.S.

The director lost his father in the early stages of the movie’s development and his mother when the film neared completion, so when the movie was finally released, Sohn shared his vision behind making the film and took a walk down memory lane while doing so. Below are excerpts from the letter.

“My parents left Korea in the late 1960s and came to New York where they created a beautiful life and community for my brother and me,” he wrote. Pivoting on how it inspired ‘Elemental’, Sohn writes, “Like our main character Ember, I felt this intense calling to honour my family and their sacrifices. They gave up so much, so I can do this for them, right?”

Sohn has been with Pixar for 23 years. In the letter, he talks about being drawn to animation from a young age, and how his mother would take him and his brother to the movies. Despite his mother’s limited understanding of English, Sohn said, he did not have to translate animation movies for her because the medium was powerful enough to transcend language barriers. That is when he realized “Wow animation can do that!”

“Elemental is a love letter to my parents – thanking them for building such a supportive foundation for my brother and me. Unfortunately, I lost both of them during the production of this film and I miss them every day. If your loved ones are still with you please take a moment to thank them,” Sohn wrote, and concluded it with “Mom and Dad, this is for you.”

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