‘Elemental’ Director Peter Sohn on Bringing His Personal Story To Life

Peter Sohn’s Elemental is set in the fictional city of Element City, where anthropomorphic elements of nature: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air co-exist. The story follows Ember (Leah Lewis) a tough, witty, and hot-headed fire element who has trouble controlling her emotions, and Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), a go-with-the-flow water element who is overly emotional has no trouble expressing his emotions openly.

Though they are natural and culturally different, circumstances forces them to join forces to save a city with serious infrastructure problems. And they open themselves to each other and soon discover that they have more in common than they realize. Ahead of its physical media home release, The Nerds of Color had a chance to sit down for a virtual interview with Sohn to talk about the film’s themes, its script evolution, Thomas Newman’s score, and Tsum Tsums.

While Elemental follows those opposites attract rom-com formula, Sohn reveals that a few other cinematic inspirations influenced the story. Films such as The Godfather II and Joy Luck Club helped shape some of the family drama and clarify what generational and immigrant trauma means to those who experienced it. We also talked about capturing the immaculate reality of marginalized communities bringing a bit of home to a new world and how the passing of his parents helped him realize what they wanted for him — a tragedy that would ultimately play a role in the Ember and Bernie dynamic. Sohn and I also talked about what it was like to work with Thomas Newman, who conducted the score and whether or not that score will ever have a physical release.

Disney and Pixar’s Elemental arrives on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on September 26. The Digital, 4K, and Blu-ray comes with bonus features such as director’s commentary, deleted scenes, the Pixar short Carl’s Date, and three featurettes that take a deep look at the development of the characters and Element City, and first-generation filmmakers and Elemental crew members sharing their journeys to Pixar.