As humans, we live in our shells. We hate anything that defies our predetermined standards. For us, black is black, and white is white. We are ardent enough not to accept other colors nature has to offer. And what happens when we find something unique or distinctive? Instinctively, we reject its presence or label it as dangerous to save our sovereignty. Disney animated film Luca is a tale of acceptance. Are we humble enough to accept anyone who doesn’t meet our standards? Are we human enough? Let’s find out.
On the coast of the Italian city of Portorosso, Luca Paguro, a pre-teen sea monster, lives with his family. His mundane days are spent herding a school of fish, which Luca finds utterly boring. He wants to swim to the surface and experience what life up there looks like. But his parents, father Lorenzo, and mother Daniela confine him for his own safety. But if a fish has fins, it is going to swim.
Neglecting his parents’ warnings, Luca swims towards the surface with his newly made friend, another young sea monster named Alberto Scorfano. It is when the magic happens. On the dried surface land, Luca finds out that sea monsters can transform into humans. It is the start of a new life that Luca cherishes with all his heart.
The two friends start spending their leisure time at Alberto’s hideout, a small watchtower on an isolated island. Luca is mesmerized by human collectibles at Alberto’s place, but there is one bewitching item he couldn’t ignore. A poster of an Italian scooter, Vespa. The two friends decide to design their own Vespa scooter and enjoy all the happiness their secret life has to offer. Until Daniela and Lorenzo find out Luca’s secret.
Why was Luca enchanted by the Vespa?
When Luca first saw the poster of Vespa, it gave wings to his ecstasy. As a sea monster, he wanted to fly in the air. It was for this reason why both Alberto and Luca used a plank for their experimental Vespa designs. They wanted to touch the sky.
Luca also dreamt of touching the hot star in the sky. Like Icarus from Greek mythology, Luca wanted to explore the limits of the sky. Luca’s fascination shifted from Vespa to the telescope (or school). It was another symbolic reference that suggested his inquisitive desire to explore the realms of the sky above him.
When Luca ran away from home, Alberto suggested that they should own a Vespa. It would help them to ride to new places and kindle to their adventurous spirit. They would be free of all authorities. The instance is a reference to Italian director, Federico Fellini who used a similar element of escape in his film. Through the film, director Enrico Casarosa paid homage to his favorite.
Why did Luca run away from home?
Luca was a fish with glittering dreams in his eyes. The ocean wasn’t big enough to captivate his passion. He wanted to embark on an adventure and explore the world. As an artist, he was a curious soul, but he was different too.
Luca’s parents understood the fact, and thus to protect their child from a death wish, they decided to send him into the deep ocean with his Uncle Ugo. Being a teenager and a rebel, he decided to run away to safeguard his dream of owning a Vespa one day. The deep ocean would kill all his desires, and Luca wasn’t ready to submit.
How did Luca and Alberto plan to get a Vespa?
Alberto thought that the city of Portorosso would be full of Vespas, and there would be one for them too. Without much ado, the two underdogs landed on the coast. They were mesmerized by a Vespa of the local bully, Ercole Visconti.
Through the incident, the two friends met the third wheel to their cart, Giulia Marcovaldo. Giulia told Luca and Alberto about a local Portorosso Cup Race that would offer the prize money to buy a second-hand Vespa. Giulia had been struggling herself to win because the race consisted of three difficult challenges. A player had to accomplish swimming laps, eat pasta after that, and ride a bike through the town. It was a difficult task, but she felt optimistic with Alberto and Luca in her team.
The trio underdog decided to win the Portorosso Cup Race to buy a Vespa and end the reign of terror of the previous champion, Ercole.
‘Luca’ Ending, Explained
By the end, Luca got blinded by the dream he had. He dishonored his friendship with Alberto. And even Alberto got possessive when he observed the closeness between Luca and Giulia. Alberto thought that, like his father, Luca was going to leave him too, and that fear made him envious.
To rectify his selfishness, Luca decided to win the Portorosso Cup Race and give a Vespa to Alberto, with whom he started the journey. In a Disney-like emotional sequence that weighed companionship over self-regard, the trio underdogs won the race. But in its course, their identity was revealed to the whole town.
Now, it was the time for Luca to make the hard choice. He could either jump into the ocean and run away like always or stay back and help a friend in need. Both Alberto and Luca decided to help a fallen Giulia. The act of kindness brought about a change in Massimo (Giulia’s father). Massimo resented sea monsters initially, but Alberto and Luca made him realize that even the people different from us have compassion and a right to live. Massimo stops the town from threatening the sea monster and declares Alberto and Luca the winner of the Portorosso Cup Race.
Accepting the differences and being humble towards them was the underlying theme of the film. In the end, Luca’s grandmother comments the same as she quotes, “Some people, they’ll never accept him. But some will. And he knows how to find the good ones.“
Luca’s parents decided to send him to a school with Giulia. Alberto sold off his prized Vespa to buy a ticket to Geneva for Luca. Even Alberto accepted the fact that “some birds aren’t meant to be caged.” He boarded the train with Giulia while Alberto stayed back in Portorosso to help Massimo with fishing. The two friends parted at last, but they will always share ‘their same sky of fish.‘
Luca is a 2021 Disney Animated Film directed by Enrico Casarosa.