Coco Breathes Life to Death

Coco Breathes Life to Death

Death scenes in animated movies should not cue on melancholia but instead be spirits that guide us to rise above sorrow. Movie buff Amanda Ho ploughed through a box of kleenex nonetheless as she sat through almost two-hours of Coco. It might change your aversion to the subject of 'el muerte'.

PIXAR’S animated movie “Coco” is not just a film for children, but also for adults who are curious about the afterlife. 'Death is inevitable' is something we commonly hear as we grow older. Even some kiddie-friendly animations do not deliberately eschew the inevitability of death. Remember Mufasa's demise in the “The Lion King”? Tragic... which for some of us, was extremely traumatising.

However, the subject of death in Pixar’s latest animated movie `Coco’ is not a precursor to bad omens ahead but translates into spirits that guide us in our future endeavours.

Directed by Lee Unkrich, "Coco" is set in Santa Cecilia, which at first glance, follows the journey of Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), chasing his dreams of being the next Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Pratt), a famous musician who broke his family apart. As the movie progresses, the ultimate message changes.

Miguel with his Grandma Coco. Photo by Pixar

The movie is heavily influenced by Diá de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and it creatively captures the essence of Mexican tradition with the use of Papel Picado in storytelling in the beginning of the film. Great effort was made to dress everyone on the set with more than 500 individual pieces of traditional Mexican attire showcased throughout the film, with the help of an almost fully Hispanic cast in the film, and many more.

With minor details such as the use of Aztec Marigold, which in tradition, is a flower that helps guide the deceased back to their loved ones during Diá de los Muertos, to the integration of Spanish language in speech also made the film more believable. “Coco” has not only captured the hearts of viewers with aesthetically pleasing visuals but also with their amazing soundtrack which is heavily influenced by Mariachi music from Mexico.

The uniqueness of “Coco” is its depiction of the afterlife. In animations, the deceased are usually recognized with their halos or angel wings. However, 'Coco' was able to create a range of characters without the use of stereotypical designs and using Diá de los Muertos as their inspiration to create believable and relatable characters.

Ultimately “Coco” focuses on the importance of family support and tradition. It also talks about the importance of remembering the family's legacy and never forgetting their roots. “Coco” brings a new meaning to death as it is not something to be feared but most importantly, a reason to celebrate legacies and impact the deceased have made in their family.

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