A volcano just killed us with cuteness. Pixar’s newest short film, "Lava," about a lonely volcano in the midst of a million-year search for someone to “lava,” is the most charming volcano love story we've seen since -- well, it's even better than "Joe Versus The Volcano."
In the trailer, a volcano named Uku sings yearningly across the Pacific for a companion. And even though it’s only a 39-second clip, there’s something about Uku’s wistful volcano eyes and crusty lips that we just can’t even handle.
The song is an original composition, performed by Kuana Torres Kahele, a Hawaiian musician already renowned in his home state for reviving Hawaiian classics and composing original works for hula halaus (schools).
Hawaiian kumu hula (teacher) Napua Greig co-stars as the lover, Lele, and, while Kahele wouldn’t talk much about the film in a recent interview, he told viewers of Honolulu’s KHON to bring a tissue to the theater, “because you’re gonna need it for the first two or three minutes.”
The idea came to director James Ford Murphy while honeymooning on Hawaii’s Big Island. After pitching the story to Pixar executives, Murphy learned to play the ukulele and wrote the love song.
To create Uku's face, Yahoo! reports, Murphy drew from facial features of Kahele, "Honeymooners" star Jackie Gleeson and the bulldog in the Chuck Jones animated classic, “Feed the Kitty.”
Murphy said that “Lava” will carry on the tradition of many of Pixar’s other shorts, allowing its animators to develop and improve its technologies for future films. “Lava,” for example, will feature digital helicopter flyover shots of the mountains, providing a challenging “exercise in contrast.”
“We struggled with it a lot,” Murphy told Yahoo! “But I feel like, once we were able to embrace the limitations of it, it unlocked all sorts of possibilities. I love that about animation: You can really make a mountain come alive. You can’t do that in another medium.”
"Lava" will precede "Inside Out," Pixar’s next feature-length film, in theaters; it's slated for release on June 19, 2015.