Over the years, representation in media for people of color has only grown, and this hasn’t stopped in the slightest. Disney’s Pixar has taken part of this surge of representation with their newest movie, Encanto. The animated movie takes place in Colombia, in an unknown area, and focuses on a rather large family within the small Colombian village. The members of the family, referred to as La Familia Madrigal, each have a magical gift given to them by their house, Casita and a magic candle that keeps the house and the magic alive. However, the main character, Maribel, never received a gift.
Before the movie even starts, there’s a short film that plays following the theme of generational trauma. The short film, Far From The Tree, is the story of a raccoon and her baby and their efforts to find food to eat. The raccoon attempts to keep her baby safe as she forages for food, while the baby, curious and energetic, leaves sight of her mother to go explore. The baby then encounters a wolf, which results in a chase between the mother, the baby, and the wolf. In turn, the baby receives a scratch that will eventually scar, and the mother yells at the baby. The short then cuts to a repeat of the first half, with the baby now grown up with her own rambunctious child. Instead of the mom getting angry though, she breaks the cycle of generational trauma and chooses to explain the situation instead. It’s short, simple, sweet, and sets the tone for what kind of film Encanto was going to be.
The movie itself is fantastic, subverting a basic plot and having strong, emotional beats that keeps the viewers glued to their seat. Encanto does a phenomenal job bringing light into generational trauma. In true classic Hispanic fashion, the grandmother is the head of the family, and she holds high expectations for everyone in her family. Throughout the movie, there’s multiple hints to her lack of understanding and high expectations for everyone and how it hurts the family, and in turn, Casita and the magic.
On top of a phenomenal story and many serious and heartwarming themes, the visuals and music in the movie are magnificent. Even listening to the soundtrack alone, you can tell it was all handled with care, and with each musical number comes a stunning visual. Especially the song “Surface Pressure,” centering Luisa Madrigal and her internal struggles within the family. This scene is gorgeous and makes Luisa look like she’s in a colorful music video.
To say this movie made its mark is an understatement. Encanto did a wonderful job accurately portraying how generational trauma can function, and gave amazing representation to Hispanics of all shades and colors. The comedy in the film is spot on too, hitting home for both children and adults. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Encanto, and it’s definitely worth a watch. It’s been running in theaters since November 24th. Today, December 24th, it begins streaming on Disney+.
By Sasha Gonzalez, Junior, Chi Arts