Disney’s most-awaited animated classic of the year, Raya and The Last Dragon has won several hearts globally, with critics and ardent fans already raving about the masterpiece. After a long wait, the coming Friday is set to be a fantastic one as this action-packed animated movie will be released in theatres on the 5th of March across India. Here are five things you must know before you dive headfirst into the land of Kumandra with Raya on a quest to find the last dragon.
Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina to voice the titular roles
Set in a mystical world called Kumandra, the story of Raya and The Last Dragon is inspired largely by South East Asian cultures. Adding to that authenticity, popular actress, Kelly Marie Tran will voice the lead character Raya, making her an addition to the long list of Disney’s warrior princess after Elsa (Frozen 2), Mulan, etc. Along with her, the Crazy Rich Asian fame actress Awkwafina aces the voice of Sisu, a dragon from the fantasy lands of Kumandra.
The mystical land of Kumandra
The story of Raya is set in Kumandra – a kingdom divided into five different lands that she has to venture through to find the last dragon. The lands of Heart are covered with rock formations to secure the sacred Dragon Gem, while Tail lands are isolated desert islands. Snowy mountains sheltering fierce warriors are the Spine lands and at the head of the Dragon river lie the opulent Fang lands with manmade canals for security. At the centre of these four lands, lie the Talon lands, vibrant and bustling market area, a crossroad for merchants of all five lands- connected by the Dragon River. A cinematic journey through these unique and different regions will be a sight we cannot miss.
South-East Asian influence on Disney
Vastly influenced by the South East Asian heritage, Raya and The Last Dragon ensured that the influences were kept authentic. Two groups of filmmakers made research trips throughout Southeast Asia—including Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, Raya’s fighting style was inspired by Pencak Silat from Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as weapons modelled from Kali and Arnis martial arts found in the Philippines. Her distinctive sword was inspired by the keris, a blade that is revered in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. It is the very first Disney animated film that features a South-East Asian warrior Raya voiced by the famous South East Asian actress Kelly Marie Tran accompanied by several other Asian actors including Awkwafina, Sandra Oh, Gemma Chan and Daniel Dae Kim.
Women power breaking barriers on and off-screen
The character sketch of Raya breaks the conservative cookie-dough cutter approach to the creation of a princess. The titular characters Raya and Sisu the dragon are female characters who are mighty, intelligent and brave enough to face their troubles. Breaking the patriarchal boundaries off-screen, the film presents an all-female technical leadership team led by Technical Supervisor Kelsey Hurley, and Associate Technical Supervisors Gabriela Hernandez and Shweta Viswanathan. Responsible for every big and little technical need of the team, that helped achieve the intended vision for this classic animation film, these women deserve a big cheer!
Animation created from the homes of its crew
The pandemic has caused several glitches to film production houses all over the world in the past year, but did you know that Raya and the Last Dragon were made from the homes of its crew members? Yes, almost 450 artists and crew members managed to create all shot production for Raya and the Last Dragon while working from their homes. It is also known that more than 900 employees have worked remotely to contribute to this film and other upcoming projects of Walt Disney Animated Studios.