DreamWorks Pushes Narrative Boundaries with ‘Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken’ and ‘Orion and the Dark’

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken

DreamWorks Animation is embracing a fresh narrative approach, characterized by ‘subverting the hero’s journey,’ as highlighted by President Margie Cohn at Annecy. This innovative approach is showcased in two upcoming releases: ‘Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken’ and ‘Orion and the Dark.’

‘Reuby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,’ featured prominently at Annecy, challenges conventional expectations by redefining the typical hero. The film introduces teenage Ruby, who, to her surprise, discovers she is a Kraken. The story unfolds as Ruby strives to reconcile her dual identity with the guidance of her powerful grandmother, voiced by Jane Fonda. Director Kirk DeMicco challenges traditional narratives about sea creatures, proposing a shift from monstrous depictions to that of protectors. The film explores the theme of challenging assumptions in 2023 and reimagines legendary sea creatures as victims of a PR crisis.

The creative team sought inspiration from the octopus to depict the cutest possible Kraken, emphasizing the need to challenge preconceived notions. Faryn Pearl, the co-director, discussed the incorporation of octopus qualities and universal teenage experiences, symbolized by the idea of twisting into oneself. The film introduces an unlikely hero with Ruby while highlighting the sea’s ‘mean girls,’ the mermaids.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Trailer From DreamWorks Animation

Contrasting this original narrative, ‘Orion and the Dark’ draws from Emma Yarlett’s book and promises to be a visually stunning and intimate movie. The story, set to be released on Netflix in 2024, revolves around Orion, a boy voiced by Jacob Tremblay, who grapples with various fears, especially the fear of the dark. Director Sean Charmatz explained that Orion’s fears are personified by the Dark, portrayed as a complex character, misunderstood yet resembling the Grim Reaper. The film explores themes of anxiety, insomnia, sleep, quiet, dreams, and unexplained noises, providing a unique and original perspective.

The production team, guided by acclaimed filmmaker Charlie Kaufman, created a visually rich film set in the 1990s. The art director, Christine Bian, highlighted the warm and handmade aesthetic chosen for the film, aligning with the personal tastes of the creative team.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken' is Dreamworks' Solution to 'The Little  Mermaid'

Margie Cohn emphasized DreamWorks Animation’s commitment to expanding and reimagining franchises while daringly venturing into original, delightful, and deeply personal stories. The studio aims to provide each generation with original touchstones alongside beloved franchises. The progressive narrative approach showcased in these upcoming releases reflects DreamWorks Animation’s dedication to pushing creative boundaries and offering unique storytelling experiences.

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