“Wish”, latest Disney film, is a “tribute to fairy tales” for Jennifer Lee

The latest Disney film, “Wish: Asha and the Lucky Star,” hits theaters on November 29.

“Wish”, latest Disney film, is a “tribute to fairy tales” for Jennifer Lee

The latest Disney film, “Wish: Asha and the Lucky Star,” hits theaters on November 29. The president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Jennifer Lee, tells us more about this new cartoon.

Disney is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. On October 16, 1923, the first studios were born. From there, history was made for the company that would revolutionize animated cinema and become, a hundred years later, one of the most influential studios in Hollywood.

It is therefore impossible for the Disney animated film released in cinemas in the year of this centenary not to make reference to the history of the studio. And that was the challenge for the producers of Wish: Asha and the Lucky Star, in theaters this Wednesday, November 29, 2023: combining tradition and modernity. Viewers can discover the story of a teenager devoted to her community, who lives in a kingdom where all wishes can be granted. One evening of despair when she prays to the lucky star, her wish is miraculously granted.

In a round table interview before the film's release, Jennifer Lee, president of Walt Disney Animation Studios and director of the Frozen franchise, recalls that this 62nd animated feature film "responds to the desire to pay a great tribute to classic fairy tales.

"I wanted to pay homage to that genre, sure, but just to build the foundation of the film. The balance between homage and modernity really happened on many levels and at several moments in the making of the film."

Disney fans will find many recipes already tested and approved in this new animated film. The public can thus have fun looking for nods to previous films, and will note the references to Pinocchio or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Connoisseurs will easily make the connection between the main plot of the feature film, dreaming and having a wish, with the blue fairy from Pinocchio. Asha literally prays to the lucky star.

If the homage is obvious, the challenge for the creators of Wish was to overturn this cliché and modernize it: “It’s really a film which tells us that making a wish is above all a call to act,” underlines Jennifer Lee. “It’s up to you to make this wish come true, don’t wait for someone to do it for you.”

An emblematic character from Disney studios makes his return here in Wish: Asha and the Lucky Star: the big bad, here in the guise of Magnifico (Lambert Wilson in French version). In the latest studio films, the heroes and heroines often fight the elements or natural forces, or even lurking villains.

This is not the case here, since Magnifico can bring to mind former great Disney antagonists, like Jafar or Ursula: "As we wanted to pay homage to the old Disney characters, one of the things that amused us was to return to this concept of a villain, wondering what he would look like today,” recalls Jennifer Lee. “With Magnifico, we really wanted to understand his psyche and understand his motivations.”

If Wish: Asha and the Lucky Star takes elements from old Disney films, that doesn't mean that its design was a long, smooth river. From a technical point of view, the animation proved complex: “We knew we wanted to pay homage to the watercolor style, the brushstroke and the artist, with the most innovative technology possible. But we didn't have this technology ready when we started working on the feature film." It is now up to spectators to admire the result in theaters.

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