This Thanksgiving, after a hearty meal of ham and mashed potatoes with my family, I had the pleasure of watching Disney’s latest masterpiece “Coco” in theaters.
The movie centers around Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday about honoring those who have passed. It tells the story of a boy named Miguel who dreams of becoming a musician. However, due to a family dispute where the great great grandfather walked out on the family to pursue his dreams of being a musician, music has been banned from the family ever since.
After discovering he is the descendant of the town’s most famous musical icon Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel breaks into la Cruz’s tomb to borrow his famous skull guitar to play in the town music competition. Shortly afterward, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead and embarks on a journey in search of his heritage and history.
The film took years of design and research to finally come to life and the end result was fantastic. The movie was poignantly created and features beautiful visuals and vivid colors. No surprise there – seeing as this is a Disney film produced by Pixar.
Even so, upon seeing the film on the big-screen I was blown away by the sight of the alluring scenes, particularly the Land of the Dead, which is depicted as not at all a gloomy place but rather a chimera of color and sound filled with amazing creatures called “spirit animals.”
The movie as a whole evoked the true spirit of Day of the Dead, beaming with the holiday’s vibrant colors as well as showcasing its trademarks, like the ofrenda (private altar), painted sugar skulls and colorful cut-paper decorations. Not to mention the film features an awesome soundtrack, beautifully designed and very lovable characters.
Besides the stunning visuals, the film depicted Day of the Dead and Mexican culture in a way that was accurate and authentic. The Pixar team made multiple trips to Mexico for cultural research to help develop the story and characters of Coco.
According to an article by Michael Cavna on The Washington Post, the cast wanted to fully immerse themselves in the holiday, visiting families and gathering traditions from various parts of Mexico such as Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guerrero and more.
Initially, the film sparked controversy after Disney requested to trademark the phrase “Día de los Muertos” for marketing purposes. Ultimately, the movie title was changed and with cultural authenticity in mind, Pixar hired a team of cultural consultants. Additionally, the creators hired a nearly all-Latino voice cast.
Coco is filled with many heartwarming messages that make this a must-see for all families, which is no surprise why it’s received such a tremendously positive response from the public. It not only surged to the number one movie at the box office Thanksgiving weekend, but it also surpassed “The Avengers” as Mexico’s highest grossing film of all time.
For Mexican families like mine, I can certainly say this film struck home. Many valuable themes are explored such as putting family first, embracing one’s culture and traditions, the power of music and the value of remembering our loved ones.