On Friday night, I saw the most enchanting short film: Lava, produced by James Ford Murphy, a member of the Pixar development team. In a television interview, Murphy said he came to Hawai‘i on his honeymoon twenty-five years ago and fell in love with the islands and their volcanoes. This affinity for Hawai‘i deepened when he heard Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole sing "Over the Rainbow."
Murphy began to study the ‘ukulele and read about volcanoes. He learned about Hawai‘i's geological history and Lō‘ihi, the active underwater volcano off the southeastern coast of the Big Island. While he continued to play the ‘ukulele, his reading about the volcanoes and his feelings for the islands and its music started to come together.
Murphy said his goal in making Lava was to capture the response he had had to Kamakawiwo‘ole's song. For me, the film was evocative not only of the Hawai‘i that exists now but also of the relatively unspoiled one I grew up in. The synergistic effect of the film's meticulous rendering of geographical forms and textures, the wonderful theme song (composed by Murphy and sung by Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig), and the fresh and beautiful images was intense for me. Nostalgic feelings built in me as I watched it, and I am grateful to Murphy for that experience.