Compulsive and laborious wherever you look at it, although also tender and warm, but in the background, ELEMENTARY It’s a film that Pixar apparently made for two, maybe three reasons. The first is to test animation techniques by creating characters that are, quite literally, physical, anthropomorphic representations of the elements of fire, water, earth and air. Secondly, to continue creating these worlds that are far from any realism – as it was FROM THE INSIDE TO THE OUTSIDE the soul– operating in universes with their own logic, highly symbolic versions of the real world. And thirdly, being able to talk about political issues – racism, xenophobia – without delving too deeply into these issues.
Directed by Peter Sohn, ELEMENTARY (ELEMENTS, in Spanish) takes place on a planet (or a universe, it’s not clear) whose inhabitants represent the four elements in question. They generally tend to live in separate countries, and when they live in the same city, as in the case of Element City where the story takes place, they do so in almost different neighborhoods ghettos in which they are rarely mixed with the other elements.
The protagonists are those of the fire element (extravagant, fiery, there were no Spanish subtitles at the Cannes screening), the last to arrive at Element City and the ones who have the most integration problems, since they are, as we know, an element acts, which can be dangerous and destructive if left unchecked. The rest of the elements marginalize and marginalize them, leaving them feeling somewhat included but happy in a neighborhood made up almost entirely of people as “fiery” as them. There is no specific ethnic identity to compare them to, and the film presents them as a combination of characteristics of immigrants from very different backgrounds.
When they arrive, they speak in a guttural language and respond with somewhat strange names such as Útrí dár ì Bùrdì and Fâsh ì Síddèr. They, like many immigrants, will soon be known by “Americanized” names like Bernie and Cinder Lumen. They’ll have a girl they’ll call Ember, they’ll move into an abandoned house and turn it into a home and a thriving business (when they arrive, when they want to rent a house, everyone slams the doors in their faces ), the years will pass and everything will be ready for them. that the now adult Ember takes control of the premises.
The problem is that the girl is, well, fiery. That said, she becomes very nervous and tense when running the business and sets everything on fire more than once. One day he overreacts to a horde of bargain hunters, nearly setting the family business on fire and breaking pipes that flood the basement. This is discovered by Wade Ripple, a man from Agua (perhaps an Aquatic?) who works as a fearful and guilt-ridden inspector, monitoring the condition of the business and issuing a fine that could result in Fuego’s family closing the establishment.
This will prompt Ember to convince Wade to give her a second chance to avoid a cancellation of the deal. And through these tours, negotiations, and literal trips around town trying to discover and plug water leaks, Fire and Water get to know each other and already know what happens to these things. Only here, for obvious reasons, is a flammable or floodable or downright dangerous combination. For them and for others. We know that the metaphor is being used.
In terms of its ideas about a more harmonious world and integration between races (sorry, elements), the film is somewhat simple, even banal, designed for very young children and with puns on the names of things that are already basic in the original English and maybe even more so when dubbed into Spanish. Strangely enough, both the characters associated with the air (in the form of thick clouds, perhaps representing white people of a certain economic status) and those of the earth (which are like trees of all kinds, which may be something in this metaphor about the United States). ) connected (as well as the rest of the white “working” population or those from earlier immigration) show very little development ELEMENTS. They are secondary elements in the truest sense of the word.
What works better than the grand allegory is the romance between Ember and Wade, who go from mutual rejection to mutual understanding, and when “the potatoes burn” (my jokes are just as bad as the ones in the movie), they have no choice, than doing “throw a bucket of cold water” (sorry) on the relationship. She must deal with her attraction to Wade, her family responsibilities – a classic theme in Disney cartoons – and her fear of her parents’ reaction if she finds out she loves a creature made of water. He now has a progressive family (is that the Aquatics?) who accept the girl as a potential girlfriend and have a habit of crying excessively at any nonsense, perhaps the only repeated joke in the film that works very well.
The film works well in this area and becomes tenderly emotional towards the end. But to achieve that, you have to go through a long series of adventures that could very well resemble those of a plumber (the thing is, they’re basically plugging broken pipes all over the city) and endure a series of bad jokes that happen in reality, world situations transform into other, very similar ones in this “Americanized” parallel universe, which even has its kind of Super Bowl, its Black Friday (here it is Red) and so on.
And the other “element” that works well is, as expected, the animation work. ELEMENTS creates a fascinating world and sometimes makes you want to get lost in it background than in following certain details of the investigation story. This creation of alternate universes allows Pixar to explore techniques of making characters and backgrounds coexist better, and stopping that certainly improves the experience. But it’s not something everyone will do, especially little ones. The core ideas of the story will become clearer to them and they will certainly emerge from it wanting to be kinder to others or, failing that, to study chemistry at university.