Encanto is a colorful, comforting, and relatable Disney film with beautifully sculpted characters. This animated musical-fantasy film revolves around the marvels of the enchanted Madrigal family.
Encanto wins one’s heart with its refreshing storyline, spot-on comic timing, aesthetic backdrop, and uniqueness. It is a satisfying watch even for people who are not fans of animated or fantasy films. The era of the setting of the movie and the inspiration for the story is unclear. Hence, it may instigate a lot of curiosity among some viewers. Nevertheless, the film is easily fathomable to any modern viewer. Sounds exciting? Let us jump right into the lives of the miracle Madrigals!
‘Encanto’ Synopsis: Meet the Madrigals
Following a tragic incident, Abuela Alma Madrigal has been blessed with a miracle in her candle that gave refuge to her family in a magical Casita. Fifty years later, the Madrigals are a respected kinship wherein the members possess a unique supernatural ability.
The three children of Abuela Alma:
- Julieta Madrigal → Heals people with her food
- Bruno Madrigal → Has visions into the future
- Pepa Madrigal → Controls the weather with her mood
- Isabela Madrigal → Makes flowers bloom
- Luisa Madrigal → Has super brawny strength
- Dolores Madrigal → Can hear a pin drop from miles away
- Camilo Madrigal → Can shapeshift
- Antonio Madrigal → Communicates with animals
The Madrigals who do not possess any magical powers:
- Abuela Alma (the keeper of the enchanted candle)
- Agustin and Felix (the men married into the family)
- Mirabel, Julieta’s youngest daughter who never received her gift!
Being a part of a gifted family with no gifts has always made young Mirabel doubt her worth. However, when a threat awaits Casita, the fate of the family miracle relies upon the hands of Mirabel.
The Cultural Representation:
Disney’s animated-fantasy films have had a long history of centering around globally dominant Caucasian cultures. Encanto is one of the films that has contributed to changing that pattern. Following the Arabian representation through Aladdin and Oceanic representation through Moana, Disney has dived into the wonders of Colombian culture through Encanto.
- Romanticizing the Hispanic Culture:
Regardless of the historical atrocities (faced by several communities), Disney helps one see the beauty of every culture through its fiction. Encanto does the same for the Colombian-Hispanic culture with its picturesque setting, traditional attire, and delightful music. These attributes have successfully enhanced the enticing plot of the film. Right from the opening scene, the film ensures that the audience does not leave their seats!
As a musical film, the songs play a significant role in the narration of Encanto. The film involves 44 songs, including the OST and trailer tracks. Most of these are the works of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Germaine Franco. The musicals are very amusing and melodious, with several funny elements that add life to the film.
‘Encanto’ Plot Explanation
- Matrilineal and matriarchal kinship:
The cinematic representation of a matrilineal family is a rare sight. The Madrigal family, nevertheless, is a refreshing exception. The film features Abuela Alma Madrigal, who became a single mother and raised her triplets. Furthermore, she nurtured her extended family to a respected kinship, who used their gifts to serve the community. The women in the Madrigal family are empowered decision-makers. The beauty in the film is that the power dynamics are not dominated by one gender. The Madrigals make the perfect example of an egalitarian family, as everyone’s opinion matters.
(Minor Spoilers Ahead)
- Luisa’s Strength:
Luisa Madrigal has the gift of great physical strength and brawn. Typically, such strengths are possessed by male characters in any popular fiction. Encanto breaks this stereotype by making a female character the strong one. Luisa uses the best of her abilities to help the residents of their village. She is the strong pillar of support to the village and her family, who seldom complains or shares her vulnerability.
Even so, the super-strength does not make her character less feminine in any way. Luisa is a soft-hearted girl who dotes on her sister and is always there to protect her. She does not feel embarrassed about crying, showing her expressive feminine side.
- Happy Ending ≠ Marriage:
Not long ago, a typical Disney fantasy movie could be described as a Damsel-in-distress and a knight-in-shining-armor falling in love and getting married. Only a marriage of that kind could be followed by the phrase “happily ever after.” Regardless, Mirabel’s journey does not involve marriage in any way. She saves the day and comes off as a hero without any help from a Prince-Charming whom she could marry in the end.
- No Customary Villain:
Another pattern that the film breaks is the existence of a certain maleficent sorceress, vengeful foil, or mean old wolf in the story. Despite being a fantasy film, Encanto has a mature take on the issues the characters strive for.
While there are a few grey shades to Abuela’s character, her controlling nature can be justified as caused by all the years of trauma and uncertainty she faced. On the other hand, Bruno’s character is perceived as mysteriously evil earlier in the film. Eventually, Bruno turns out to be the sweetest guy in the Madrigal family.
- The Grey Area:
It is quite easy for fairy-tales to establish a very black-and-white narrative. A few character frames include:
- The distressed orphan
- The spiteful stepmother
- The ugly duckling (the underdog)
- Or the arrogant attractive girl/boy.
Films like these include flat and repetitive characters and give a very one-sided perspective on who’s who. Encanto does an excellent job at broadening the perspective of the characters.
While the audience perceives everyone from Mirabel’s eyes, it opens their minds as she eventually understands her family members better. The characters in the film are beyond a frame, or tag one may give them. They are multi-dimensional, unique, and have a lot of depth in them. The beauty of the plot lies in how the characters evolve from accusing to empathizing with one another.
While Encanto may be typically described as a light-hearted comedy, it has several meaningful underlying messages. The film sheds light on personal struggles with vulnerability, self-acceptance, and embracing imperfections. Every viewer can relate to Mirabel’s journey of self-discovery that leads to a gratifying ending.
Encanto is an excellent film that can inspire its younger audience to recognize their own gifts and potentials. Overall the film is a beautiful amalgamation of laughter, adventure, light mystery, music and dance, and loads of entertainment.
Encanto is a 2021 Disney Animated Film directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard.