‘Red’: Pixar’s animated film that breaks the menstruation taboo

‘Red’ is the first Pixar film directed solo by a woman. Is about Domee Shia 33-year-old Chinese-Canadian filmmaker who has been working at the studio since 2011 and who, with his first short film, ‘Beam’, won the Oscar confirming the change in sensitivity that was taking place in the field of animation. More inclusive characters, a feminine gaze and a variety of themes far removed from the clichés that helped connect with the contemporary. In ‘Bao’ they talked about motherhood and the empty nest through a ‘dumpling’ that came to life. Now, ‘Red’ confirms that we are facing an author who owns a personal, original universe with an irreverent profile.

Its protagonist is Mei, a 13-year-old girl who speaks to the camera and introduces us to her interests and hobbies, so that we immerse ourselves with her in the ‘teenager’ universe through a true whirlpool of vitality. She lives in Toronto and her family runs a temple dedicated to a Chinese deity to whom she professes a strange cult. The microcosm of high school, her gang of friends and getting tickets to see the ‘boy band’ on duty (the film takes place in the early 2000s) are her main concerns, specifically she is a fan of the 4*Towns (a band created for the occasion) whose songs have been written by Billie Eilish and FINNEAS.

hulk on girl

All this supposed normality in which she is installed will crumble one day when she wakes up, when she notices a change in her body: she has become a huge red panda and, depending on her mood, she will transform until she learns to have the control over herself. “For me it was the perfect metaphor for puberty, that of a girl who is a cocktail of hormones and she does not have enough tools to know what is happening to her. I remember being always red, from anger, shame or love. And of course menstruation is red”, tells Domee Shi to EL PERIÓDICO during her visit to Madrid to present the film. “It’s like the Hulk, but as a girl. And instead of green, red, furry and adorable & rdquor ;.

In the film, taboos about menstruation and adolescent sexual desire are dynamited and friendship between girls is vindicated as a space of comfort, especially when it comes to escaping from the control that parents can exercise in a stage that tends to both emotional and physical confusion. “I wanted to give prominence to my 13-year-old self and also talk about the relationship I had with my mother at that time. It is a hard moment for both parties, because many gaps of misunderstanding are generated. You live anything intensely and that is present in Mei, in the way she moves. It is a true earthquake and the film is impregnated with that particular energy & rdquor ;, continues the director.

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He admits that he wanted to take risks with this film and that he managed to have absolute creative freedom. ‘Red’ talks about identity, how personality is forged and how our ‘I’ ends up imposing itself facing heritage and the past through the decisions that are made, building or breaking bridges depending on the circumstances. There are no princesses here, no idyllic worlds, and fantasy is used as a metaphor for the process of change.

Shi is passionate about anime and it shows in a movie. The design is textured, almost tactile, very colorful, and the facial expressions resemble Japanese animation techniques. “I grew up watching anime and I love how they play on emotions so quickly and seamlessly. It was perfect to symbolize the roller coaster that Mei lives on, with all those mood swings & rdquor ;.

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