In Disney's upcoming animated feature Raya and The Last Dragon, the story follows the titular Raya, a lone warrior who sets out on a journey to track down the legendary last dragon in the hope of restoring the world of Kumandra and uniting her divided people. With Raya being entirely on her own at the outset, she will have to find allies along the way something that will see Raya have to learn to trust to save her world. For filmmaker Don Hall, the film has all of the elements to tell a story of trust and unification, both visually and in terms of story.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Hall explained that even in the fantasy setting of Kumandra trust and unity were important elements.
"I think the fact that even though it's a fantasy world, the idea of, and we had a very clear visual metaphor for unity, which was the dragon river that it once was one land that fractured into different lands, so we had a wonderful kind of visual metaphor for that. And unity was always sort of the goal, but that was almost an overly broad theme and we felt like to ask ourselves to get to unity what are the obstacles to that and trust felt like it was the most interesting thematic to kind of double down on because you could very easily illustrate and justify a character's point of view on trust," Hall said. "For instance Raya, in a broken world you can't trust anyone and she's very justified, I think. As an audience member you're like, 'yeah, I saw what you went through and yeah, I get it.' And then you know, Sisu is of the mind that the world is broken because you don't trust each other and for a good portion of the movie she seems out of touch."
Hall continued, explaining that over time, both characters come to a deeper understanding and, in the process, those making Raya and The Last Dragon also had to rely on their own unity and trust as creators to make it work.
"Actually, to achieve that level of thematic unity in a story is this heavy lifting," Hall said. "And it takes story discipline, but it also takes the ability to execute that and do it with heart and with humor and I can't say enough about Qui's [Nguyen] writing in addition to Adele [Lim], you know, being able to execute it on the page because if it's not on the page, it's not going to be in the movie. So, it had to be on the page."
Raya and the Last Dragon arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access on March 5th.