Disney shines light on generational trauma through their new film, Encanto

Disney’s movie poster for Encanto. Image Credit: Disney 

Disney’s latest movie, Encanto, has broken records for its hit soundtrack which was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is well known for his previous works in Hamilton and In the Heights.

Miranda produced many of the soundtracks and wrote all 8 famous Encanto songs. The song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, has reached number one on the charts and stayed there for three weeks. The song was about Bruno’s gift of visions and it showed the towns’ reactions to their negative readings. He was painted as the antagonist when he was trying his best to fit in. Bruno was overwhelmed with backlash and felt pressured to isolate himself within the walls of the house for many years. Bruno became a taboo name and was never spoken about again since he was known to bring trouble. 

The film has beat previous Disney records held by the 2013 film, Frozen. Encanto is more than just a film with great music that takes place in Columbia. Disney is beginning to display Latinx representation through its works. They began with the film Coco and the television show Elena the Avalor. Many watchers have broken down the deeper meaning of Encanto and linked it to generational trauma in Latinx families.

The initial Madrigal trauma occurs when Abuela Alma (Maria Cecilia Botero) had to endure watching her husband, Pedro, be killed in front of her. Abuela had no choice but to raise her newborn triplets on her own. After the death of her husband, Abuela was given a miracle candle that would not lose its flame. She refused to let it die down as she felt it was the only part of her husband left. Each one of her triplets was then given a gift, magical powers, to bless their town. 

The next generation of the Madrigals went through a gift ceremony as well. The main character, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), is the only Madrigal to have not been blessed with a gift. Meanwhile, her older sisters Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and Isabel (Diane Guerrero) were given a gift without an issue. 

Throughout the film, it is evident that Mirabel is ostracized by her own family. The song “Waiting on a Miracle” demonstrates that Mirabel feels like an outsider in her own family. This song begins when she is not invited into the family photo that was commemorating her younger cousin’s new gift. Abuela excluded Mirabel the most due to being in denial of the possibility of a flaw in the magic of the Madrigal family.

Luisa was the oldest sister and was gifted with the power of strength. Not only was she expected to be the physically strong one but also pressured herself to be mentally strong. Luisa was expected to fix the family’s weaknesses no matter how high the responsibilities piled up. You’d see her go out in the town and be bombarded with tasks to resolve. She never said no as it would make her seem weak. The song, “Surface Pressure”, proves Luisa is reaching her breaking point. She had a breakthrough in the film when she finally expressed her feelings to her younger sisters.   

Isabella was the middle sister and was gifted the power of growing beautiful flowers. Her character was the beauty and grace of the family. She was expected to maintain the perfect image of the Madrigals. In the film, she was excited to marry Mariano (Maluma) because it was what her family wanted. In reality, Isabella was sick of being picture perfect and did not want to marry him. Mirabel helped her see the beauty in being messy and having fun.

Abuela’s grip to hold the miracle together created an unhealthy state for the Madrigal family. Many Latinx people watched the movie alongside their parents in hopes that they would understand the message and feel empathetic. Latinx parents have the same mentality as Abuela, they pretend everything is fine even during the most chaotic times. Older daughters hoped their parents would see the pressure they went through as they were expected to be the backbone of the family just like Luisa. Unfortunately, the message went right over most Latinx parents’ minds. 

The newest generation of Latinx people have seen the problems that the oldest generations passed down and are insightful enough to ensure it no longer continues. Latinx people are now breaking the chain of generational trauma just like Mirabel did in the film.

The film portrays a beautiful story that can be watched with the whole family. The message of the film is tailored towards young Latinx adults. The best relationship in the movie is between Mirabel and her younger cousin Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers). Antonio was too young to see the destruction in the family, so he never excluded Mirabel like the rest of the family. I would rate Encanto 4.8 candles out of 5. In your downtime, I would highly recommend watching Encanto