Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” is an epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra. Raya embarks alone on her quest to find the last dragon to restore the fractured lands and its divided people. In her pursuit, she learns that it takes more than a dragon to save the world— it takes trust, teamwork, friendship, and the wisdom of her community as well.
“Raya doesn’t have friends,” says actress Kelly Marie Tran who voices the warrior princess. “She sees people she doesn’t know as dangerous.” Along with her trusty steed Tuk Tuk, Raya meets and joins forces with formidable giant Tong (Benedict Wong), 10-year-old entrepreneur Boun (Izaac Wang), mischievous toddler Noi (Thalia Tran), and legendary dragon Sisu (Awkwafina). Together, they form a chosen family that works to unify Kumandra. “During the course of the movie, she learns how to trust people again,” says Tran.
The theme of teamwork on screen mirrored Walt Disney Animation Studios’ real-life challenges. Due to the COVID crisis, the film’s more than 450 artists and technologists worked from home. Thanks to the advancement of technology, they completed the film physically apart, but virtually together.
Disney’s diverse workforce brought the rich lands of Kumandra to life.
- Writers Adele Lim who was raised in Malaysia and Qui Nguyen whose family is from Vietnam co-wrote the screenplay.
- As Head of Story, Fawn Veerasunthorn of Thailand turned the screenwriters’ words and the directors’ vision into a visual representation of the narrative.
- Crowds Artist D’Lun Wong of Malaysia designed the crowds in scenes to accurately reflect the peoples of Southeast Asia who inspired the film.
- Lighting Artist Roger Lee from Singapore used software to enhance the atmosphere, tone, depth, and mood of the scenes.
- Modeling Environment Lead John Aquino of the Philippines and Modeler Punn Wiantrakoon of Thailand, who moved to California and Virginia respectively as teenagers, built digital versions of everything that is seen on screen into models in order to be animated.
- Senior Software Engineer Far Jangtrakool of Thailand provided technical tools that animators and layout artists utilized to create the film.
The film’s themes of trusting one another and working together are relatable to all audiences. “Right now, the world is very broken,” said Co-screenwriter Qui Nguyen. “This movie has a lot of magic in it, but I think the biggest piece of magic is trust. It is the real secret ingredient that will save our fictional world of Kumandra. And it’s a message that I think is really important for the world to have and see.”
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” is available on Disney+ with Premier Access and in theaters.