Onward – Beyond Magic – The Disney Pixar animated film
The magic of cinema was taken to a new level in 2020 with the animated film “Onward”, produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Directed and co-written by Dan Scanlon, already known for directing “Monsters University” in 2013, the film represents the 22nd animated feature film from the Pixar production company.
Set in a contemporary suburban fantasy world, “Onward” presents us with the adventurous story of two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by celebrities Tom Holland and Chris Pratt respectively. Their goal? Go in search of a mysterious artifact that could allow them to spend another twenty-four hours with their late father, Wilden. A mission not without difficulties, including cryptic maps, insurmountable obstacles and extraordinary discoveries.
Behind this fascinating plot lies a personal story: that of Scanlon himself. The untimely death of Scanlon's father, which occurred when he and his brother were just children, inspired the film's central plot. The creative spark ignited when Scanlon listened to an audio recording of his father's voice, sparking a desire to tell a story that explores brotherly bonding and the pain of loss.
The voice cast is rounded out by talents such as Octavia Spencer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tracey Ullman, helping to make the film an immersive and engaging experience for viewers of all ages. The soundtrack also has its weight, with Mychael and Jeff Danna composing the melodies and Brandi Carlile contributing an original song.
“Onward” premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 21, 2020 and made its US theatrical debut on March 6 of the same year. Despite generally positive reviews, the film performed less than expected at the box office, grossing $142 million against an estimated budget of $175 to $200 million. This failure was largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the closure of cinemas. In Italy, for example, its release has been postponed several times, making it possible to watch it in theaters only from 19 August 2020.
However, the film found a wide reception on streaming platforms, particularly on Disney+, where it was added on April 3, 2020 in the United States and on January 6, 2021 in Italy.
“Onward” also left its mark on awards ceremonies, receiving nominations for Best Animated Film at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Despite this, it was “Soul,” another Pixar film from the same year, that took home the win on both occasions.
In a year characterized by challenges and changes, “Onward” was a reminder of cinema's ability to bring people together through stories that touch the heart and soul, even in the darkest moments.
The story of Onward
In a world populated by mythical creatures, ancient magic was at the heart of everyday life. Sorcerers and wizards were respected for their extraordinary abilities to use magical power to create wonders and protect the kingdom. But as technology evolved and time advanced, magic was supplanted by science and became obsolete, relegated to tales and legends.
However, in a town called New Mushroomton, magic was destined to awaken thanks to two elven brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot. While Ian is a shy teenager searching for his true nature, Barley is a fan of role-playing games and ancient history, always ready to dive into an adventure. But a surprise awaits them. On Ian's sixteenth birthday, Laurel, their mother, reveals a gift left by their late father, Wilden: a magic staff, accompanied by a rare Phoenix Gem and a formula capable of bringing Wilden back to life, albeit only for a day .
Emotion takes over and, while Ian, discovering he possesses magical powers, begins to recite the spell, a distraction leads to an unexpected result: only Wilden's lower half comes back to life. This unexpected setback launches the brothers into a race against time to find another Phoenix Gem and complete the spell before sunset.
Their adventure takes them first to the Manticore Tavern, once a gathering place for adventurers, now transformed into a quiet restaurant run by the Manticore herself, called Corey. Here, between a children's menu and a heated discussion, they find a clue that directs them towards Punta del Corvo, the place where they hope to find the precious gem. But the journey is not without dangers: between motorcycle elfs, police chases and pitfalls of all kinds, the two brothers must rely on each other to overcome every obstacle.
But more than the external vicissitudes, it is Ian's internal growth and his bond with Barley that become the beating heart of the story. The knowledge that Barley has always acted as a father figure to Ian and the admission of his own fears and regrets bring them closer than ever before. And while the epic final battle against a stone dragon tests their courage and magical prowess, it is the strength of family bonds that emerges as the true magic of the story.
The magic of "Onward" lies not only in the adventures and exploits of the protagonists, but in the way it explores the complexities of family relationships, the importance of memories and the ability to face and overcome the pain of loss.
The world of "Onward - Beyond Magic", produced by Disney Pixar, is populated by magical creatures, elves, centaurs and many other mythical figures. The story revolves around the Lightfoot family and their friends and adversaries. But who are the protagonists who animate this adventure?
Ian Lightfoot he is the teenage elf at the center of the plot. Original voice by Tom Holland and dubbed into Italian by Alex Polidori, Ian is 16 years old and is looking for a connection with the father he never knew. He is insecure but has a heart of gold, eager to find out more about his roots.
The older brother, Barley Lightfoot, played by Chris Pratt in the original version and by Andrea Mete in the Italian version, is the complete opposite of Ian. Passionate about magic and role-playing games, Barley is loud, extroverted and loves to embark on adventures without thinking too much.
Laurel Lightfoot, the mother of the two young elves, is a figure of support and love for her children. Voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and, in the Italian version, by Sabrina Ferilli, Laurel had to raise her children alone after the premature death of her husband, facing the challenges of motherhood with courage and determination.
Laurel's boyfriend, Colt Bronco, is a centaur who works as a police officer. Voiced in English by Mel Rodriguez and in Italian by Enzo Avolio, Colt tries his best to be a father figure to Ian and Barley, even if he can appear a little awkward at times.
And then there is Wilden Lightfoot, the missing father. Original voice by Kyle Bornheimer and dubbed into Italian by Fabio Volo, Wilden is a constant presence in the hearts and minds of his children. His untimely passing is what drives Ian and Barley on an adventure to try to bring him back to life, if only for a day.
These characters, along with others such as “Corey” The Manticore, Grecklin, the goblin pawn shop owner, and Fenwick, the Cyclops, create a rich and varied tapestry that makes “Onward” a fascinating and engaging film. Through their interactions, adventures and challenges, Pixar takes us on an emotional journey, exploring themes such as family, grief and personal growth.
The production of the film Onward
It all started with Dan Scanlon, known for directing “Monsters University” in 2013. Encouraged to develop personal stories, Scanlon took inspiration from his father's untimely death and the bond he had with his brother. The spark came when they listened to an old cassette with their father's voice: two simple words, "Hello" and "Goodbye", became the magic that would animate the film. And so it was that in 2017, at the D23 Expo, Pixar announced the birth of a new project set in a "suburban fantasy world".
The Cast and the Magic of Dubbing The voice cast chosen for “Onward – Beyond Magic” is stellar. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lend their voices to the protagonists, Ian and Barley Lightfoot. Alongside them, icons such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer complete the picture. The talent and chemistry between Holland and Pratt, who had already worked together, allowed the film to be further livened up, thanks also to moments of improvisation during the recording sessions.
Details and Magic of Production But the creation of “Onward” isn't just about an engaging story and a first-rate cast. The animators faced unique challenges in bringing the magic to life in the film's suburban setting. After studying various animated films that featured magic, such as “Fantasia” and “Aladdin,” the team sought to bring a unique touch to the film's magical animation. A perfect balance between manual and computer animation led to the creation of magical effects that blend harmoniously with the film's setting.
The Social and Cultural Context “Onward – Beyond Magic”, despite being a story of adventure and magic, is no stranger to contemporary themes. In fact, a homosexual character is introduced in the film, the policewoman Cyclops Specter. This inclusion provoked various reactions, with some nations censoring or altering the reference. Despite this, Pixar has continued its tradition of tackling important and timely issues.
In summary, “Onward” is not just an animated film, but a work that reflects love, loss and the desire for connection. Its creation required years of work and dedication, and the result is a gem that shines in the panorama of contemporary animation.
- Original title: Onwards
- Original language: English
- Country of Production: United States of America
- Year: 2020 mm
- Duration: 100 min
- Relationship: 2,39: 1
- Gender: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
- Regia: Dan Scanlon
- Subject: Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley, Keith Bunin
- Film script: Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley, Keith Bunin
- Producer: Kori Rae
- Executive producer: Pete Docter
- Production House: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
- Distribution in Italian: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Photography: Sharon Calahan, Adam Habib
- Editor: Catherine Apple
- Special effects: Vincent Serritella
- Music: Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna
- scenography: Noah Klocek
- Art Director: Amy L. Allen, Huy Nguyen
- Character Design: Matt Nolte, Grant Alexander, Maria Yi, Zaruhi Galstyan
- Entertainers: Michael Stoker, Rob Duquette Thompson
Original voice actors:
- Tom Holland: Ian Lightfoot
- Chris Pratt: Barley Lightfoot
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Laurel Lightfoot
- Octavia Spencer: Corey
- Mel Rodriguez: Colt Bronco
- Kyle Bornheimer: Wilden Lightfoot
- Lena Waithe: Agent Spencer
- Ali Wong: Agent Gore
- Gray DeLisle: Dewdrop
- Tracey Ullman: Grecklin
- Wilmer Valderrama: Gaxton
- John Ratzenberger: Fenwick
Italian voice actors:
- Alex Polidori: Ian Lightfoot
- Andrea Mete: Barley Lightfoot
- Sabrina Ferilli as Laurel Lightfoot
- Francesca Guadagno: Corey
- Enzo Avolio: Colt Bronco
- Fabio Volo: Wilden Lightfoot
- Gwendolyn Ward: Agent Spencer
- Micaela Incitti: Agent Gore
- Dalal Suleiman: Dewdrop
- Graziella Polesinanti: Grecklin
- Fabrizio Manfredi: Gaxton
- Renato Cecchetto: Fenwick
- Favij: Sprite
Source consulted: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onward_-_Oltre_la_magia