Disney presents the gift of Encanto
By Marina-Rae Gill, Online Editor
“Encanto,” the Walt Disney Company’s newest animated musical, has been receiving raving reviews after its release in late November 2021. It has not only been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it’s soundtrack has gained huge popularity and is in the running for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
The movie’s most popular song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 near the end of January, and has held the position for several weeks. It is the only Disney original tune to hold the position for more than one week since 1993.
“Encanto” tells the story of the Madrigals, a Colombian family who is forced out of their village after an armed conflict— referenced in the film as “The Violence” —threatens their safety. As they flee, the Madrigals find refuge in a magical house called Casita. As their family grows, Casita grants each new child a magical gift, a phenomenon which comes to be known as the Miracle. The story centers around Mirabel, who is the only Madrigal child to not receive a gift. When the family’s magic begins to fade, Mirabel takes it upon herself to save the Miracle.
Colombia has many different cultures which originate from separate regions in the country, making Colombia highly diverse. To encapsulate as much of Colombian culture as possible, the writers of “Encanto” incorporated different foods, clothing, geography, and most importantly, music, to reflect all of Colombia.
Lin-Manual Miranda and Germaine Franco, the composers of the “Encanto” soundtrack made sure to use traditional Colombian instruments such as tiples and bandolas, which are small and guitar-like. Other important instruments include marimba de chonta and arpa llanera, which help create an authentic Colombian sound.
In addition to the use of traditional instruments, several styles of rhythm which originated along Colombia’s coast were integrated as well. Many of these styles like Bumbuco and Mapalé developed from traditional African folk music which grew and adapted in Colombia during the slave trade, and are now very important in Colombian cultures.
The movie’s setting is also inspired by a real location in Colombia, though it is never specified exactly where.
Aside from the amazing effort put into creating an accurate depiction of Colombian culture, aspects of the Madrigal family truly resonated with fans as the movie explored ideas of trans-generational trauma. Because of the family having previously experienced “The Violence,” the Madrigal children are pressured with the expectations of their older family members. They feel that it is their job to live up to those who suffered to protect them.
Trans-generational trauma is a common experience for people all over the world, though it especially affects people of color who have or whose family members have faced past trauma. This is a huge reason why “Encanto” is an important addition to the Disney collection because it provides representation for children and adults of color who might recognize or have experience relating to trans-generational trauma.
Because of its ability to accurately reflect Colombian culture and experience, “Encanto” rightfully deserves remarkable reviews.