Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Pixar: Lava - Quick Thoughts


Pixar often shows a short film before their feature length, but this one always stood out in my memory. It is a 6 minute music video that tells a simple love story about a volcano. Interesting to me is that fact that this short film has just as much story as a full length film. Click "read more" for my full thoughts.


The film was not released free, but a simplified version was in the form a music video. 

The song is the same in this version, but the animation was mostly taken out in favor of a more slideshow style.

The song itself is catchy but is more of a musical narration than a traditional song. There is some high quality animation 

Animation aside, the story and lyrics are unaltered and it has a very simple plot. You can easily listen to it, but if you want the plot written out then here you go. A friendly volcano is lonely as he watches several animals who are in relationships. So, he sings a song of hope everyday in hopes another volcano will appear. Years go by and a female volcano appears just as our main male one is sinking into the ocean. Everything is sad until the female volcano sings the same hope song which causes the male volcano to explode back above the sea. Happy ever after.

How this could have been stretched into a full movie (hypothetical)

What made this special stand out to me when I saw it in theaters is that it actually hits every plot important moment in a cliché love story. Before I continue, let me stress that this short should most definitely NOT be stretched into a feature film as it is much better as a short film, but this is the best way I could think of to explain my point. Allow me to paint an image: First, give the volcanos names, keeping with the cheese, I'll call the male Smokey and the female Cinder. Secondly, we will add some filler and side characters. Here we go.

Make Smokey friends with several of the animals and give him a sidekick, perhaps a dolphin named Fin. Take a few scenes to establish a relationship and let Smokeys loneliness and hope song be his secret that Fin eventually discovers. Throw in some lava puns and scenes that depict Smokey lonely and we have are first act.

Second act will be about Smokey sinking into the sea. Most of his animal friends have left to find a new home, but Fin is still around as he already lives in the sea. This arc will be all about Smokey's hope beginning to fade and Fin's conflict on either or not to encourage him in what he believes is a dream doomed to never come true. 

Finally, the last act introduces Cinder. Give some basic backstory about how she sank to the bottom of the sea a long time ago which would bring us back to Smokey's hope song. Let Fin be the one to discover Cinder and rush to tell Smokey not to give up and sing his song one last time.

The rest plays out the same as the music video. Except and a a longer ending with all the animals returning with a big celebration. And there we go, a completely unoriginal kid friendly love story.

Naturally, this would never happen, at least not to this short film. However, most short films kept the plot simple for the short run-time. In a way, this story is also very simple, but at the same time it is a complete journey with several emotions and characters you can actually care about. 

Closing Thoughts

I am not going to pretend this short film is some kind of masterpiece or even anything super orginial, but it is at least worth checking out. It aired as an opening act to Inside Out; and while it will never be that memorable I have always been a fan of the less is more approach. There really is not much else to say, give it a listen or pay the $3 for the animated version. Either way, it gets a recommendation from me. Peace out! 


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