In the enchanting world of Disney Pixar’s Coco, the Rivera family takes the spotlight, and the multi-generational dynamics make the family tree a captivating puzzle. Set against the backdrop of the Day of the Dead, Miguel’s journey through the Land of the Dead reveals the forgotten stories of his ancestors, strengthening his bond with his relatives and unraveling the truth about his great-great-grandfather. Directed by Lee Unkrich and veteran Pixar animator Adrian Molina, “Coco” is a heartfelt tale that immerses viewers in Mexican folklore, offering catchy music, a complex yet comprehensible plot, and moments of domestic comedy and media satire.
The “Coco” Hero and His Musical Dreams:
The film introduces us to twelve-year-old Miguel Rivera, a young boy with a profound love for music and an aspiration to become a musician. He idolizes the legendary singer-songwriter Ernesto de la Cruz. However, Miguel must hide his musical talents from his family, as they have banned music ever since his great-great-grandfather abandoned them to pursue his dreams of stardom. Yet, as the film unfolds, this seemingly simple narrative is challenged, taking Miguel on an “Alice in Wonderland” journey to the Land of the Dead, where he accesses the untold stories of his ancestors.
Family Legacy and the Narrative Struggle:
The heart of “Coco” lies in its exploration of family and legacy, expressed through storytelling and music. The film weaves a plot around Miguel’s family members, both living and departed, as they grapple to determine the official narrative surrounding Miguel’s great-great-grandfather’s disappearance. Central to this narrative is the great-grandmother, the title character, who remains a silent yet haunting presence, deeply affected by her father’s vanishing act.
A Journey to the Land of the Dead:
The machinations that transport Miguel to the Land of the Dead are intricate, and the hero soon finds himself teaming up with Hector, a melancholic goofball. Miguel must assume the appearance of the dead with the help of skeletal face paint. Yet, like Marty McFly’s sojourn to the past in “Back to the Future,” the longer Miguel remains on the other side, the greater the risk of him becoming truly deceased.
A Tale Told Through Pictures:
The film’s storytelling mastery is evident in the use of a stolen family photograph that Miguel brings with him to the Land of the Dead. This photo, like a jigsaw puzzle, holds missing pieces and untold truths about Miguel’s family history, adding layers of depth to the narrative.
A Fresh Perspective:
What distinguishes “Coco” is its non-American viewpoint on spirituality and culture. The film delves into Mexican folklore with authenticity rather than as a mere thought experiment. “Coco” has already become Mexico’s highest-grossing film, embracing an alternative universe of Pixar Mexicano that has existed alongside its American counterpart for years. The ensemble cast boasts Latin-American talent, further enriching the movie’s cultural depth.
Homages and Inspirations:
“Coco” pays homage to film history and animation, with references to dancing skeletons reminiscent of 1930s cartoon shorts. The film also draws inspiration from the works of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki, showcasing a matter-of-fact depiction of the living and the dead coexisting. Notable creatures like Dante, the goggle-eyed dog, and the plump, old housecat-like flying dragon-type beast add unique charm to the film.
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Disney Pixar’s Coco: Widescreen Grandeur
The film’s widescreen compositions draw inspiration from old musicals and eighties Hollywood comedies, capturing characters from head to toe in the same frame. This approach, seemingly counterintuitive for a world filled with fantastical elements, infuses the film with a sense of realism and unassuming charm.
“Coco” is a masterpiece that blends tradition with modern storytelling, creating a heartfelt narrative centered around family, legacy, and the power of music. Miguel’s journey through the Land of the Dead weaves a tapestry of emotions and revelations. It’s a film that honors Mexican culture and folklore while delivering a universal message about the importance of embracing one’s heritage and following one’s dreams. Like Miguel’s great-great-grandfather’s guitar, “Coco” strikes a chord with audiences, leaving them with a memorable tune that lingers long after the credits roll. This film is a classic that has found a permanent place in the hearts of viewers around the world.