The latest Pixar movie has reached theaters and- ¡Ay Dios Mío!- they have outdone themselves.
The story takes place in the fictional village of Santa Cecilia, Mexico on the famous Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). 12-year-old Miguel is an aspiring musician who ends up in the Land of the Dead and must obtain his family’s blessing in order to return to the real world before the end of el Día de los Muertos.
The movie throws drastic plot twists your way but it also opens the door to Mexican culture—a topic that is vastly underrepresented in Hollywood.
Not only can you see the movie in both Spanish and English but the movie was released in Mexico in time for el Día de los Muertos, almost a month before it was released in the States.
Pixar does a wonderful job of not “white-washing” or “Americanizing” the film, even when it is in English. As a Spanish major, I have every intention of seeing the movie in Spanish but even the English version had me giddy with all of its Spanish phrases.
Pixar illustrates the importance of knowing a language to better understand a culture. Throughout the movie, you will hear terminology such as, “pobrecito,” “abuelita,” “mi hijo” and so on. Even in English, all the voices have beautiful Spanish accents from an all Latin cast that help make transitions between the languages smooth and natural.
But language isn’t the only thing Pixar takes into consideration. You can’t have a movie about el Día de los Muertos without discussing Mexican culture. The movie perfectly explains the concept of the celebration and life after that.
Beyond addressing the obvious, the movie also subtly normalizes authentic Mexican culture. Too often, Hollywood represents Mexican culture with tacos, chihuahuas, sombreros, salsa and soccer and, while those aspects are a part of the culture to an extent, Coco digs much deeper.
You can see these deeper aspects of Mexican culture such as corn husk tamales, ofrendas, Frida Kahlo references, papel picado and even subtle hints of Aztec culture.
If you are interested in culture or not, you will find yourself going a ‘poco loco’ for the movie that will still bring you to tears.
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