“Encanto” – Movie Review

    By Daniela Roldan Cabrera

    Encanto is the 60th film by Disney and was the first one to be located in Colombia. Even though the story is not necessarily tied to Colombia itself, it is about a Colombian family and so the culture, history and environment of the country are all present in the movie. 

    First of all, the movie follows Maribel and her family, the Madrigals. The matriarch of the family is Abuela, who came with her three children after her husband died during the displacement from their village. Because of this she is given a miracle and a magic house is built in a mountainous region of the country. She is also the one who helps build the town near the house. Her children are Pepa, who can affect the weather with her emotions; Bruno, who can see the future; and Julieta, who can heal wounds with food. Pepa’s children have super hearing, can shapeshift and talk to animals. Julieta’s can grow flora and are super strong, and then there is Mirabel, who did not get a gift of her own. This is how the movie starts.

    An important thing that I appreciated the movie including, even vaguely because it is a children movie, is the history of violence and displacement of the country. Abuela and her husband are forced to leave their village along with others due to the violence, probably perpetrated by a guerilla or paramilitary group. It is not specified, but anyone from Colombia could easily identify the context.  

    Another feature about the movie is that there are so many Colombian references that only Colombians would be able to identify. The sombrero vueltiao the background characters were wearing while carrying bags of coffee, the traditional game of tejo, and holiday food like buñuelos at the tables are a few I can mention. The flora and fauna is also animated amazingly and the animation itself is a strong feature of the movie. 

    In addition to the elements within the movie, it was incredible to see actual famous Colombian actors and singers being a part of this project. Internationally recognized names like Carlos Vives and Maluma are included, but famous Colombians like María Cecilia Botero, Catalina Gaitán and Sebastián Yatra are also included. They voice the characters or sing in both English and Spanish.

    Finally, in my opinion, the strongest feature of this film is the sound-track written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He really made an effort to include a lot of Colombian sounds. Each of the 8 songs has a different rhythm; they are all fresh, up-beat, or emotional, and fit each scene perfectly. Pairing that with the colorful animation Disney is known for makes watching this movie a marvelous experience.

    In terms of something that could have been improved, I was really excited for Mirabel’s physical hero’s journey. There was a lot of emotional growth throughout this movie; however, I was expecting a little more adventure. The plot revolves around the fact that Mirabel will be the one to save her family and house from a mysterious force, which turns out to be the family’s feelings of pressure and internal discord. There is no clear villain or antagonist and Mirabel fixes the family by allowing her sisters to express their feelings and letting them know it’s okay to be who they are. This is all very wholesome. Nevertheless, I did expect some sort of travel or movement along the movie in order to discover something new that could evolve Mirabel’s character. As it is, it just felt like Mirabel’s usefulness was in helping elevate others, but not herself. But that was just my impression. 

    All in all, this movie was very enjoyable and heartwarming. As a Colombian, I was very happy and satisfied with the representation and I am glad international audiences got to be exposed to some of our culture. As a children’s movie, it did an amazing job with representing a multiracial family with internal problems, and showing how those can be solved to leave the family even stronger. As a final comment, yes, it is a movie that passes the The Bechdel test, which is always appreciated.

    The movie will come out to Disney+ for Christmas, so if you missed out the theatrical release, it is definitely something you should consider watching during the holiday break. Enjoy!

    By Daniela Roldan Cabrera Encanto is the 60th film by Disney and was the first one to be located in Colombia. Even though the story is not necessarily tied to Colombia itself, it is about a Colombian family and so the culture, history and environment of the country are all present in the movie.  First…

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