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Saturday Matinee

Saturday Matinee #77, Brave Week: "La Luna" (June 22, 2012) - published June 23, 2012

by Albert Gutierrez

This week, From Screen to Theme has been celebrating all things Brave. Saturday Matinee continues that tradition as we take a look at the short film that precedes Brave in theatres: "La Luna." Since this short film is still playing in theatres, and the majority of readers have not yet seen it, I'll forego the usual "full" summary and just provide a brief premise. Once Brave arrives on Blu-Ray & DVD, I'll revisit "La Luna" in full.

Young Bambino sits in a boat with his Papa and Nonno (father & grandfather, respectively), waiting for the moon to rise. Both men have their own views on how to do things. The simple act of wearing a cap is conflicting: Papa wants to tuck it low over the eyes, while Nonno prefers having it pulled back above the forehead. Either way, Bambino wears his cap, in a safe middle ground between the two. The moon rises, and Bambino must climb the ladder to anchor the family's boat - called "La Luna" - to the moon. As he steps across the moon's surface, we see glowing stars illuminating and covering the moon's surface.

"La Luna" is Pixar's latest theatrical short, which accompanies Brave in theatres worldwide. Much like several Pixar shorts we've seen before, emphasis is not on dialogue and exposition, but within the moment itself. Watching it, I was immediately reminded of classics like "One Man Band" and "Geri's Game," two shorts that tell a memorable story through action, not dialogue. In "One Man Band" we see two men competing for a penny from a little girl. "Geri's Game" features an octogenarian (before Carl Frederickson made it trendy) playing chess against himself. "La Luna" serves as a spiritual love child of these two shorts. It's a story that draws emphasis on the differences between generations, as well as the conflict over who would "win," if such an outcome should be decided.

Thematically, "La Luna" also fits very well with Brave. Both films are multi-generational, and we can see how each character feels they are in the "right," while any opposing ideas must simply be attributed to being the old traditional way, or being a new untested way. Without giving much away about Brave, we can see how Bambino and Merida are cut from the same cloth. They have expectations from the parents about who they are supposed to be, but still have ideas of their own on who they want to be. Bambino and Merida ultimately end up finding their own way, while also coming to a better understanding of the very people they were trying to steer away from. It's classic bildungsroman, although the brevity of "La Luna" probably wouldn't qualify it as such. Were it a feature-length film (there's an idea), maybe so.

In an unrelated and slightly humorous note, some shots in "La Luna" will no doubt remind audiences of the logo for a certain other CGI animation studio (**cough** DreamWorks **cough**). I'm sure there was no malicious intent behind it. If anything, the shots seem like Pixar giving a winking nod to their friendly competition. After all, DreamWorks doesn't own every image of a moon, just as Pixar doesn't own every image of a lamp.

I wholeheartedly recommend seeing "La Luna" and Brave in theatres, it's a one-two punch that re-enforces why Pixar has reigned supreme in storytelling and animation. Both craft stories worthy of their Pixar legacy, yet are brave enough (pun intended) to perhaps start a new one.

If past summer Pixar movies are any indication, Brave will come to Blu-Ray and DVD in November of this year, in time for the beginning of the holiday season. And like all Pixar films, the theatrical short will accompany it, so "La Luna" will most definitely be included among Brave's special features.


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