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- Italian director and storyboard artist
Luca director Enrico Casarosa is “really honoured” that the Disney film has resonated with the LGBT+ community and others who feel like “outsiders”.
The fantastical coming-of-age film follows the adventures of Luca, a young aquatic creature who changes into a human when he steps onto dry land.
He forms a close friendship with fellow sea monster Alberto, and the pair end up running away to a nearby fishing village after Luca’s parents threaten to send him away.
While it isn’t explicitly a queer film, many fans empathised with Luca’s plot, and some saw the two boys hiding their sea monster identities as an allegory for being part of the LGBT+ community.
He said that, when they were making Luca, the team was thinking more about race than about LGBT+ themes. Casarosa added the film probably resonated with so many people who felt like “outsiders” when they were kids.
“It’s so various,” he explained. “And my version was certainly we were two geeks, losery, and so it’s not where I was coming from but it’s so wonderful and even more powerful for the LGBTQ+ community who has felt so much of as an outsider, right, where this is so real and stronger than my experience, I’m sure to have to grow up with that kind of a difference.
Casarosa continued: “I felt really honoured, and I don’t like to say ‘yes or no’. I can say, ‘well, that’s not how we wrote it’.
“It wasn’t my experience, but I love that that metaphor is reading in all these different ways.”
He added he was “slightly surprised” by the number of fans who saw a potential romance blossoming between Luca and Alberto. Casarosa said the film’s writers were “really focusing on friendship and so pre-romance”, which he admitted was a “kind of love”.
“There’s a lot of hugging and it’s physical and my experience as a straight man certainly wasn’t that,” Casarosa said.
He added: “The things we did talk a lot about is what is the metaphor here for being a sea monster, for being different?
“And some people seem to get mad that I’m not saying ‘yes or no’, but I feel like, well, this is a movie about being open to any difference.”
Casarosa previously told Polygon that the film was explicitly about the friendship between Luca, Alberto and Giulia, the human girl who befriends both sea monsters.
He described it as the “type of friendship that is gonna push you into trouble” and “push you into finding yourself”.
Luca is out on Disney Plus now.