Rarely has a Disney animated film been as inclusive as Strange World. There is a mixed marriage, a gay son and the family dog is missing a front leg. Matters that are not discussed, it goes without saying. There is also a positive ecological message and a discussion between father and son about the choice not to kill other species but to live harmoniously with them. The son’s homosexuality probably makes the film unsaleable in China and Arab countries, for example, a major financial drain for Disney.
In the prologue of adventure movie Strange World explorer Jaeger decides to leave his son Searcher behind, he insists on seeing what lies on the other side of a snowy mountain range. 25 years later, Searcher has a son of his own, Ethan. With his assertive wife Meridian, they run a farm where they grow pando, a crop that generates energy for their utopian hometown of Avalonia. When the pando turns out to be infected with a virus, the family investigates and they end up in a beautifully designed world full of psychedelic colors and wonderful creatures. Searcher encounters his father, with whom he soon finds himself at odds about what constitutes good parenting. Jaeger, a macho man with a big moustache, learns that there are other, less dominant ways of interacting with people.
The emphasis on healing broken family relationships is quintessentially Disney and is the least interesting thing about it Strange World. Aside from its remarkably progressive theme, the 61st Disney animated feature is a feast for the eyes, with dazzling color palettes for the different worlds it traverses, populated by motley characters such as Splat, a cute little blue creature who communicates nonverbally yet expressively with his six paws. Even the explorer family’s mission has been stripped of its colonial aspects. They help and then leave.View an overview of our movie reviews
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of November 23, 2022