Though Pixar’s LUCA is set in a fictional town of Portorosso, some events are based on Director Enrico Casarosa real friendships and childhood in Italy. The beautiful Italian Riviera scenery is only one of the incredible details about LUCA. Everyone always wants to know about Easter Eggs in Pixar films (myself included), and you’ll notice some homages to Italian cinema.
LUCA is the story of two teenage sea monsters who experience a life-changing summer on the Italian coast. You might notice some movie posters like La Strada and Roman Holiday hanging in the town. Casarosa wanted to express his love “of that golden era of film and cinema in Italy.”
I felt transported to another era. Casarosa said he loved the music in all these coming-of-age stories of summer and that music is a huge part of a movie. I completely agree! Have you ever felt the score and soundtrack of a film move you?
Casarosa said, “I just love the music of the 50s and 60s in Italy, so we’re using a lot of that. And then the design, the old Vespas, the old, little carts-bicycle, I just love the sense that this has an old feel.”
It’s all in the details, and Casarosa and Producer Andrea Warren were inspired by all these little details. “I just think that there’s a little bit of a timelessness and a nostalgia to it,” mentioned Casarosa when he discussed not putting things like cell phones in there. If he did, how was that different? Those were the things they chased as far as the time period is concerned. “I’m making it feel a little less specific, but also specific, which is an idiosyncratic thing there.”
Some of the Easter Eggs in Luca and homages were to Divorce, Italian Style, and Visconti’s Terra Trema. Casarosa said they even hid signs around town. He added, “Visconti used non-actors, so we looked at the clothing, it’s post-war so some of it was a beautiful reference for us to just figure out what is a working-class fishing town like.”
Sometimes you don’t think of animation as set design, but all the costumes, scenery, people, and details are all part of building a beautiful town for audiences to fall in love with. Casarosa called it a “beautiful opportunity to design the signs with their beautiful homages to all our favorite filmmakers and writers…just an amazing era of Italian cinema that ended up actually inspiring a lot of American and American-Italian filmmakers for so many years.”