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What Elemental’s Concept Art Reveals About Pixar’s New World

CBR logo CBR 5/29/2022 Ciaran McGhee
© Provided by CBR

Animation studio Pixar has officially released some behind-the-scenes concept art for the Peter Sohn-directed Elemental, the feature film that will follow June 2022's Lightyear. The movie takes place in a world populated by personifications of natural elements. Ember, a woman made of fire, and Wade, a man made of water, will become unlikely friends.

The world of Elemental looks to continue Pixar's tradition of inventive new environments, such as Monsters, Inc.'s Monstropolis and Soul's Great Before. This single piece of art is filled with details that reveal how a city in this unique world might work, suggesting that the movie will make the most of its compelling premise. The art also shows off Ember and Wade's striking character designs for the first time.

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A close inspection shows how the city that Ember and Wade live in is designed to accommodate various elemental characters. A tower in the background is filled with water, with a humanoid figure floating peacefully within. The tower is surrounded by a looping slide, as would be found in a water park, that the water-people are using to exit the building. The street the protagonists are walking on is next to a river that makes it resemble the streets of Venice, and which the water-people possibly use to get around.

Further in the background, air-people can be seen literally walking on clouds to get to a tower. Not only this, but a giant fan structure is blowing. Perhaps these fans create gusts of wind to send the air-people flying across the city as a form of transportation. Alternatively, maybe the fans somehow create the clouds that the air-people are walking on.

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The concept art also depicts land-people, who appear to be beings made of earth that have various plants growing from their bodies. Curiously, a land-person with what looks like broccoli growing out of their head is pictured serving the broccoli to smiling customers at a café. A figure with what looks like roses growing out of its head leans out of an apartment window to water the plants below. The implication that this character is interested in gardening because they are made of plants hints that a character's element informs their personality.

This implication is reinforced by Pixar's official synopsis that describes watery Wade as "a go-with-the-flow guy" and Ember as "fiery." Center-stage in the concept art is Wade and Ember themselves. Wade's carefree smile and upbeat gesture to the world around him contrast with Ember's skeptical frown, further teasing how their personalities will clash with and complement each other in Elemental.

It's evident that the practicalities and necessities of living in this strange world have informed the creative process of designing it, resulting in the beautiful environment depicted in the concept art. This contrasts interestingly with Soul's Great Before, which was designed as more of a spiritual and philosophical realm than a practical place to live. Animated films change a great deal over the course of their concept art stage, and it's possible that not all of these concepts will make it to the final cut. Regardless of how much the movie does or doesn't end up looking like this concept art, it's sure to be another completely original Pixar adventure.

Elemental will be released on June 16, 2023.

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