Happy New Year! Yes, I know, I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve been busy being artsy and cuddling with my dogs. What do you want from me. Now in 2021 I only had around 28 blog posts. Eek. that’s like, what, 2 blog posts per month? I mean, not bad, but come on. I can do better than that! I know I always say I’m going to blog every week, well this time I mean it. So be prepared for the year of a blog a week. It’s going to be awesome! Considering I have four drafts plus this post right here, that means I’m pretty set for the next five weeks. Just saying. It’ll probably be on Fridays. Who knows? Still figuring that out.
Classes started this week. I am taking three classes: grant writing, healing & writing, and seminar for social equity. I am super excited about all of them, and will more than likely give updates on here about them. But enough about that, let’s get to the real point of this blog.
Oh, Disney, you’ve done it again. And by that, I mean, create a movie that made me cry and have feelings, which trust me. If you know me, you know it takes a lot to make me cry during movies. Coco, Moana, and A Dog’s Purpose are a few right off the top of my head that make me full-blown, ugly cry.
Now while this movie didn’t make me cry per se, it did make me tear up and then have deep feelings, it’s still worth mentioning and talking about because it is a beautiful movie with hidden depths.
Today, we are going to talk about Encanto.
Encanto was released in theatres on November 24th, 2021. (Holy shit, it’s 2022. Did anyone else forget that?) I didn’t see it in theatres. In fact, I saw it on Disney Plus last Thursday while I was watching my boyfriend’s son. I don’t tend to see animated films in theatres, other than well Frozen II but hey, it was a great movie!
The style of Encanto reminds me of Coco with the bright colors, and the cultural aspect of it. Coco is one of my favorite movies, and like Coco, Encanto is all about family.
Encanto follows the Madrigal family who lives in a hidden town in Colombia. Like fifty years before, Alma Madrigal and her husband, Pedro, had to leave their home due to war. She and Pedro fled with their triplets (Julieta, Pepa, and Bruno), but Pedro died and she was left alone. Somehow, though it’s not very clear (we’ll get to that in a moment), there was magic, an eternal flame, an enchanted house that had a mind of its own, and later her three children and their children after them received a gift from the eternally burning candle.
All except one.
Mirabel, the youngest daughter of Julieta, did not receive a gift at five. Due to this, Alma, or Abuela as we’ll call her now, shunned Mirabel. Ten years later, it’s time for another Madrigal child to receive their gift. This time it is Antonio’s turn, Mirabel’s younger cousin. He receives the gift to speak to animals. But alas, all is not as it seems. Mirabel starts to notice that Casita, the very much alive house that they live in, starts to have cracks. It seems the magic of the Madrigal family is dying for a reason no one can explain.
Mirabel takes it upon herself to find out the reason why. She is simply a girl, perhaps an ordinary girl to her family, especially her Abuela, who loves her family very much. She wants to help. She goes on this journey without ever leaving her town, which is different, all things considered. Most leave home to have a journey, yet Mirabel doesn’t. I liked that. Anyways, Mirabel discovers things she didn’t know about her sisters, and ultimately, about herself.
She finds out that the estranged Bruno, the third triplet of her Abuela’s, never left home. That he stayed in Casita. Bruno was gifted the power to see the future but the future isn’t always clear. He saw a vision of Mirabel in front of the Casita that would change from her healing the magic to her destroying the magic. Bruno, like Mirabel, was shunned, because he had visions but he didn’t understand them all the time. When something went wrong, it was automatically Bruno’s fault.
Also, he has an entire song dedicated to him. It’s perfect.
Through some magic mumbo, Mirabel finds out that she needs to make up with her older sister, Isabela. So they do. Mirabel finds out that Isabela or Isa, doesn’t like to be perfect all the time, but it’s expected of her. Of course, she has to perfect. What else can she be? She must make perfect, beautiful flowers. Every hair in place. Be graceful. Be posed. That is what everyone expects.
Just like with Luisa, Mirabel’s other sister, Mirabel connects to Isa for the first time. She learns something she didn’t know about her: that Isa doesn’t want to be perfect all the time.
Luisa doesn’t want to be the strong one all the time. She gives this great musical number, explaining the pressure she feels she is always in. Her gift is to be supernaturally strong. The burden is literally always on her. She can’t show weakness. As someone who is the oldest sister, I get that.
I can relate to both Isa and Luisa. I get having to be perfect all the time. If I did one thing wrong growing up, it was like the world ended. Yet if one of my siblings did something worse, they got away with it. It wasn’t fair. I grew up in a broken home. It wasn’t ideal. It was rough at times. But I couldn’t show weakness. I had to stand firm and keep face because if I didn’t, if my siblings saw that I was breaking, then they’d break too. I didn’t want them to know we didn’t have food in the pantry or that the electricity was about to be cut off. That wasn’t their burden to bear. Like Isa, I had to be the perfect good girl daughter. And like Luisa, I had to be the strong dependable daughter.
Mirabel assumed that Isa enjoyed being the center of attention and Luisa liked being the one you could count on. But, she finds out that that isn’t true. She finds the deeper meaning, gets to expose her sisters, and reconnects with them. She listens, she empathizes. She may not understand, but she tries to. She tells them they don’t always have to be perfect or strong all the time. Mirabel is the healer of the family, though unlike her mother, she doesn’t do it through food, she does it through words, and I think that’s even more powerful than any other gift she could have.
Abuela sees that Isa is not perfect and that Luisa is weaker. She blames Mirabel and tells her that she has broken this family. That it is all her fault. Mirabel delivers this heartbreaking speech to her Abuela.
Family can build you up and break you down. Encanto shows how expectations, such as the expectations Abuela places on her family, can cause harm. It can make them feel as if they have to try harder, do better, in order to fit those expectations.
In a way, Abuela is the villain in Encanto because of her trauma, her past, she put all this pressure on her family. So much pressure that her son Bruno “left” because he felt like he was the cause of all the bad things. So much pressure that her daughter Pepa has to always be in control and never have a cloud. Abuela shunned her granddaughter Mirabel because she didn’t have a gift and couldn’t, in Abuela’s eyes, contribute to keeping the family and the town safe. She didn’t have a gift and thus wasn’t special and had no purpose to keep the family going.
Abuela was so terrified of losing her home, losing her family, that she lost herself. She lost her family. That is wasn’t about the magic or even the home. It was about them. It was about being together and loving each other. And I think that’s a beautiful message. It’s not about the magic. It’s about knowing that you have each and that is more than enough. The rest is just gravy.
When Abuela realizes that, she realizes that she is the reason the family is broken, she apologies, which takes a lot of strength. Parents, or grandparents, in this case, don’t often know that their actions are having a negative impact on their family. Abuela takes that step towards healing, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
Mirabel realizes that she didn’t need a gift. She is the gift, because sees more than her family’s gifts. She sees them. She is special. She is the foundation and the heart of the family. That’s why she communicates with the Casita. She’s the home.
Encanto, like a lot of Disney movies, is about family. What it means to be a family, and how to be one. Whether it’s the family you were born into or the family you choose. Encanto is about accepting yourself as you are, that it’s not your gift that’s the miracle, that’s what’s special about you, that seeing that you are the miracle. Because you’re here, and you’re still fighting. And that’s more than enough.
I think that’s beautiful.
If you haven’t watched Encanto, you should.
Here’s some articles on the movie once you watch it.