Feature: Finding Dory

Disney•Pixar’s FINDING DORY welcomes back everyone’s favourite forgetful blue tang Dory, who is living happily in the reef with Nemo and Marlin. When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, she recruits Marlin and Nemo for a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute (MLI), a rehabilitation center and aquarium.

In the effort to find her mom and dad, Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank, a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey, a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark.

Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family.

While the conclusion of the 2003 Oscar®-winning film Finding Nemo left filmmakers and fans perfectly satisfied, director Andrew Stanton had the realisation there may be some unfinished business worth exploring. “Dory had wandered the ocean most of her life,” says Stanton. “Because of her short-term memory loss, she couldn’t remember anybody she’d met, but she had emotional memories—she always remembered how it felt. And she was repeatedly left with a compounding feeling of separation and loss.

“Her optimism and helpful nature are a defence,” continues Stanton. “It is an unconscious armour she presents in hopes others won’t tire of her challenge and ditch her. When we first meet her in Finding Nemo, one of the very first things she says is ‘I’m sorry.’ She just assumes that somehow her short-term memory loss has caused a problem and she’s quick to try to mend it. That, for me, is really juicy stuff. That’s somebody that deserves to feel better about themselves; that’s a main character with a story to tell.”

“It’s a story about family,” says Ellen DeGeneres, who lends her voice to Dory. “It’s about finding the courage to do something she’s always wanted to do—even if she couldn’t remember she wanted to do it.”

According to Stanton, the story crew initially showcased Dory as light-hearted, bubbly and funny—attributes that certainly apply to the character, but left her lacking depth. “She seemed a little two-dimensional,” says the director. “I realized that even though I had her full backstory in my head, nobody else did—including the audience. Everyone walked away from ‘Nemo’ with fond memories of how funny she is. But I always saw that as a mask. I realized we’d have to fill in the audience about what happened to her when she was young.”

Finding Dory reveals that Dory has a loving mom and dad who dote on their daughter, patiently helping her manage her short-term memory loss. “They don’t try to change her,” says Stanton. “They just want to help her own who she is. Being a parent and seeing my kids grow up and enter the world, I realize that kids are all born with certain temperaments, flaws, quirks—and it’ll always be who they are. You probably spend most of your time as a parent worrying about those things, too—you don’t lose sleep over the things they do well. The best quality I could give Dory’s parents is that they never doubt her.”

Despite their best efforts, young Dory gets lost. “She wanders the ocean for most of her life,” says Stanton. “And slowly forgets why.”

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