It’s that time of year that Disney releases their movie for the holiday season, and this year is Encanto, a movie, unlike their other releases. Being the 60th animated movie for the studio, Encanto has a lot of weight on its shoulders – especially since it’s the first movie to be based in Colombia and share parts of their culture with a global audience.
Unlike other Disney movies that are steeped in other cultures, Encanto isn’t based on local folklore or anything from their culture (that we could find). But instead focuses on the family dynamic, the art, architecture, and even clothing from Colombia. The movie is a story without a time though, so these traditional outfits and architecture may not be something you would expect to see if you visit Colombia today. There is no real-time noted when this story takes place, similar to Frozen or those movies, but the lack of technology puts in somewhere in the past or a fantasy world.
Encanto brings to the screen the story of the Madrigal family, a family that has a magical gift that helps the community around them. That is all but Mirabel – she is not given a gift when she comes of age, and feels out of place. It’s the perfect setup for the fish out of water scenario, even in her own home. But while everyone else has magic and special abilities, it doesn’t mean that everything is always perfect.
The messaging through the movie is great, albeit a bit direct. And some of the lyrics in the songs are so on the nose that it seems a little cheesy. But then we have to step back and remember that this is an animated film for kids, and that’s how the messaging usually is. That being said, it will still have your toes tapping while you watch the beautiful scenes playout on the screen.
As far as animation and design – Encanto is a piece of art. From glittering scenery, hair that flows naturally, and the perfectly modeled thread and fabric. The artwork, a house that not only is magical but responds to the inhabitants and world – it’s gorgeous. Stills from the movie could be put on the wall as artwork and life-like plants are perfectly replicated without hesitation. Whoever was on the animation team for Encanto not understood their assignment, they’ve set the bar high for future films.
Encanto also does something other movies and shows often fail at – a good representation of Latinx people. We’re not just talking about the art and music here, but the people portrayed throughout the film. Meribel’s family come in all shapes, sizes, and color. Often when people think of people from Latin communities it’s a limited scope of people, but the movie shows that Colombia is not a monoculture and families and communities are diverse as well.
So what can moviegoers expect when they head into theaters to see Encanto? A simply beautiful movie with a good message for kids (and adults). It’s a feel-good movie about family dynamics and a good reminder at the holiday season. It is full of bright colors, light, and magic – things we could all use a bit more of right now. Encanto will play with your feelings, as all Disney films end up doing, but it’s a magical ride you’re going to take again.
Encanto opens in theaters on November 24, 2021 and will be the perfect holiday release for families this year.
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Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope. Releasing on Nov. 24, 2021, the film features all-new songs by Emmy®, GRAMMY® and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) and is directed by Byron Howard (“Zootopia,” “Tangled”) and Jared Bush (co-director “Zootopia”), co-directed by Charise Castro Smith (writer “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez”), and produced by Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino; Bush and Castro Smith are screenwriters on the film.