Lava (2014 film)

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Lava (2015 film) poster.jpg
Directed byJames Ford Murphy
Produced byAndrea Warren
Screenplay byJames Ford Murphy
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
Running time
7 minutes [1]
CountryUnited States

Lava is a 2014 American computer-animated musical short film, produced by Pixar Animation Studios.[2] Directed and written by James Ford Murphy and produced by Andrea Warren, it premiered at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival on June 14, 2014, and was theatrically released alongside Pixar's Inside Out, on June 19, 2015.[1] The short is a musical love story that takes place over thousands of years ago.[3]

It is set to a song written by Murphy,[4] and was inspired by the "isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes."[5] In an interview with KHON, Murphy explained that his interest in Hawaii began 25 years prior while honeymooning on the main island of Hawai'i.

Years later, he heard Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow", which touched him.[6] "I put together this fascination and love and this experience I had with my wife in Hawaii, with this feeling I had for this song and thought, wow, if I could blend those two things, it would be really—a film I would love to see."[6]

The idea began to coalesce while attending the wedding of his sister, who married at the age of 43. "As my sister stood up on the altar, I thought about how happy she was and how long she'd waited for her very special day. There, at my sister’s wedding, I remembered Loihi and I had an epiphany... What if my sister was a volcano? And what if volcanoes spend their entire lives searching for love, like humans do?"[6]


On a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, a lonely volcano watches the wildlife creatures frolic with their mates and wishes to find one of his own. He sings a song (lava) to the ocean each day for thousands of years, gradually venting his lava and sinking into the water, but does not realize that an undersea female volcano has heard him every day and has fallen in love with him.

She emerges on the day when that volcano becomes almost extinct, but her face is turned away and she cannot see him. He sinks fully into the ocean, heartbroken, but revives, full of lava when he hears her singing his song to him. His fire is re-ignited, he erupts back to the surface, this time right next to her, and the two form a single island where they are together, singing his song together.



Nicholas Garrett gave the short a positive review; he said that "it is one of their most touching and subtle (shorts)".[9] Oliver Lyttelton said that it was "beautiful".[10] Pat Mullen gave the short 3 and a half stars out of 5, praising its "fantastic visuals" and its "overall originality and artistry".[11] Nelson Rivera said "The story is told musically, which is always exciting, because music can really get to core emotions and Lava most certainly achieves this, almost effortlessly".[12]

However, Pablo Ruiz gave a negative review, describing its storytelling as "lazy" and arguing that "there's no character growth, no arc. There's no story. It's just things happening on screen."[13] Michael Colan ranked Lava as one of Pixar's weakest short films based on the writing, saying it has "too much telling, not enough showing". He praised the short film for its "gorgeous animation", however, and thought that it had a "good idea."[14]


The song to the short, also titled "Lava", was released on June 16, 2015, as a digital single, and as a bonus track on the CD release of Inside Out's soundtrack.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b Keegan, Rebecca (July 11, 2014). "First Look: Pixar's 'Lava'". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  2. ^ Emery, Debbie (June 19, 2014). "Pixar's Short Film 'Lava' Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Calia, Michael (June 20, 2014). "Pixar Unveils Details of Next Projects: Inside Out and Lava". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  4. ^ Siegemund-Broka, Austin (June 20, 2014). "Pixar's Pete Docter Promises 'Inside Out' Will Break New Ground". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Koch, Dave (May 29, 2014). "Inside Out Adds Animated Short". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "5 questions with Disney/Pixar's 'LAVA' director James Ford Murphy". KHON2. January 2, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Mizutani, Ron (August 19, 2014). "Local singer on lead role in new Disney/Pixar animated short 'Lava'". KHON2. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  8. ^ Jones, Oliver (August 28, 2014). "An Exclusive First Look at the Upcoming Pixar Short 'Lava'". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  9. ^ "Review: Pixar's 'Lava' is a hunk of burning love". Ka Leo O Hawaii.
  10. ^ "We Rank the Best Pixar Shorts From 'Lava' to 'Luxo Jr.'". June 18, 2015.
  11. ^ Pat Mullen. "Cinemablographer: OIAF Review: Pixar's 'Lava'".
  12. ^ "LAVA". FilmMunch. June 15, 2015. Archived from the original on June 15, 2015.
  13. ^ Ruiz, Pablo. "[OPINION] My Problem With Pixar's 'Lava'". Rotoscopers.
  14. ^ Colan, Michael. "Lava (2015) Animated Short-Review". The Exported Film. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  15. ^ "Inside Out (CD)". USA. Amazon. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  16. ^ "Lava (From "Lava") - Single". iTunes Store (USA). Apple. Retrieved June 26, 2015.

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