Luca: An Ligurian Love Letter to Self-Acceptance


Walt Disney Pictures

Luca’s protagonists, Giulietta, Luca, and Alberto (pictured from left to right) pose in front of the picturesque setting of the film.

As the conquering sun stretches its limbs over the horizon, creeping tendrils of light peek through the cracks in rough stone and reflect the bright colors of Piazza Calvino. The day breaks, the tide dances and the frigid water laps at the rocky shore—in this endless summer, the fictional town of Portorosso comes alive with a bright burst of Italian Sun.   

Released in June 2021, Pixar’s Luca is a profound exploration of true friendship and acceptance of oneself that resonates with a post-lockdown audience who are eager to reenter the world, reconnect with their friends and family, and celebrate their individuality. This wistful film, directed by Enrico Casarosa, follows the story of two sea monsters, Luca Paguro and Alberto Scorfano, as they examine what it means to be both human and sea monster in a society with a deep rooted fear of these creatures. Through their triumphs and trials in the idyllic Ligurian landscape, the two protagonists not only learn how to accept themselves for who they are, but also teach their community how to be accepting of those who are different. 

The film’s message, the importance of staying true to oneself and celebrating their identity, is one that inspires many, regardless of their age, gender, or race. Though portrayed in a daintily animated film with bright colors and an equally lively soundtrack, the struggles that Luca and Alberto face are very much present in modern-day society. Too often, children and adults alike feel out of place, as if they do not belong in their own skin, and struggle to take pride in their true identities. In order to appease a hateful world that refuses to change, many people surrender their individuality and become a version of themselves that they do not recognize. Unlike the idealized endings of Disney and Pixar movies, hate, fear, and a lack of acceptance are prominent issues that still plague our society to this day.  

The most important step in the journey to self-acceptance, however, is unconditionally appreciating yourself for who you truly are.”

— Ella Blanco

Nevertheless, Luca and Alberto’s wholesome story instills hope for change. In a world riddled with self-doubt and insecurity, one can find comfort in their found families—those who welcome you for who you truly are. Luca and Alberto found theirs in the father-daughter duo of Massimo and Giulia Marcovaldo. The most important step in the journey to self-acceptance, however, is unconditionally appreciating yourself for who you truly are. With the creation of his timeless film, Casarosa highlights that the search for self-acceptance is universal, offering Luca and Alberto’s story as the voice of wisdom that encourages his audience to empower themselves and celebrate their uniqueness. To the irksome voice in my consciousness that urges me to be who I am not, I channel Alberto’s contagious energy and shout: Silenzio, Bruno!