This article contains spoilers for the film Luca. You have been warned.
My children amaze me. My son is only 2 and, in many ways, I wish I could be like him.
He can sit and be amazed for minutes at a time by the simple things of nature: rocks, sticks, cows, bugs—I barely even notice things like these most of the time when I walk down the driveway or in the pasture by our house.
He also doesn’t give any thought to what he may look like to other people. He will wear mismatched outfits, goofy sunglasses, and oversized shoes. He will spin in circles while giggling and bear crawl backwards with his head between his legs. He will even run down the center aisle of our church yelling while worship is going on. At no time does he let what someone might say stop him or make him feel any shame for who he is.
I wish I could be that way. I wish I couldn’t care less about what people thought about me.Luca and his friends, like children often do, show the adults around them the wisdom in childlike innocence and wonder. There is something to be said for ignoring the obvious outward differences that can divide us and focus on the inward things that connect us all.
In the film Luca, we meet a family of sea monsters who’s scared to let themselves be seen by humans lest they be hunted down by the human townsfolk. The family is pretty normal; they’re not violent or angry. In fact, they herd goatfish and farm seaweed, almost exactly like how humans herd goats and farm wheat. The sea monsters just happen to live underwater and look like a bipedal sea animals. They’re people.
Luca, being a child, yearns to explore outside his tiny world and see what else is out there. That’s when he meets Alberto, another sea monster his age who actually lives mostly on land. Luca discovers that when any of his kind get dry, they transform and look perfectly human.
Luca runs away with Alberto to get away from his overbearing parents, and in exploring more of the local town, the two friends run afoul of the local bully, befriend a local girl and her one armed dad, and eventually compete in a local race to win enough money to buy a Vespa scooter. Luca also learns about school and how big the world around him is, wondering if he shouldn’t use the money to go to school instead.
Throughout all these events, Luca and Alberto struggle to hide their true identities from the humans, but at the end of the race, the boys are shown to be monsters by some unexpected rain; however, Giulia and her father stand up for them, so the townspeople— realizing the boys’ appearance doesn’t change how they are just boys at heart—accept them.
Luca and his friends, like children often do, show the adults around them the wisdom in childlike innocence and wonder. There is something to be said for ignoring the obvious outward differences that can divide us and focus on the inward things that connect us all. I see this in my son when he walks up to any other child at the park and sees a potential friend, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, clothing, or anything else. And I’ve learned to appreciate the unexpected, like how a dung beetle pushes cow poop down the road. Not because I watched a documentary, but because I went on a walk with my son and saw his smile and look of wonder when he pointed it out to me.
The only question will always be if we all have the courage—when our children are pressed to conform to the world’s harsh division—to stand up like Giulia’s father and allow our kids to lead us for once. Will we let them open our eyes to see the world in more vivid colors than the dull grey we’ve come to accept?