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New Disney, Pixar movie 'Turning Red' takes inspiration from Bok Kai Temple in Marysville

The new movie took inspiration from many temples in California, including the Bok Kai Temple in Marysville.

MARYSVILLE, Calif. — A little bit of Marysville was brought into Hollywood with the release of Disney and Pixar's "Turning Red."

The new movie follows main character Mei Lee in a coming of age story highlighting the struggles of the 13-year-old protagonist, who also happens to turn into a big red panda when she gets overexcited.

In the movie, Mei and her family also take care of a family temple, a temple that took inspiration from historic temples across California. For people in Marysville, parts of the animated temple were all too familiar.

"I mean, it was just a giant surprise to all of us, honestly. Because like I said, we had no idea that they were going to be like, 'Oh, there's elements of this temple that like really inspired us' and then they would reference it through photos," Young said.

Young said the Bok Kai Temple is one of the oldest temples in California, and that it's still operating to this day. Worshippers come every weekend. 

"The people that created that Pixar movie turning red, got to come and visit and look around and ask some questions," Young said.

With the temple being around since the 1860s, its possible that it has been referenced in other movies as well, but this is the first one that Young has been aware of in her lifetime.

When she learned of the shoutout, she pointed out the references to the temple on Facebook.

"It was so interesting to get comments back on that post because they were like, 'Oh my goodness, I thought I recognized the Bok Kai Temple. I thought when they were shooting the inside where the altar is in that little montage when the Lee family temple just gets introduced into the actual storyline,' they were like, 'I could have swore that looked just like the Bok Kai Temple,'" Young said.

She said the comparisons stand out in the altar area when the temple is opened and when they show a green-tile roof, which Young says reminded her of Bok Kai Temple's green archway that leads into the temple area. The movie even references the temple in a behind-the-scenes video, which the Bok Kai Festival posted on their Facebook page. It can be viewed in the Facebook video below.

The excitement was also two-fold for Young. The movie not only referenced the temple but it also followed the story of a Chinese-Canadian youth. It was a refreshing take to see a diverse character in a movie released by such big names in the industry.

"I think the lack of representation doesn't make itself known as much as you would think until you actually see a story you can relate to -- until you can see yourself on screen," Young said. "It's happened many times, my whole life."

While she says diversity has been lacking in Hollywood and entertainment for a long time, movies like "Turning Red" show that the industry is on the verge of possibly recognizing parts of real life.



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