‘Encanto’ May Be Accurate, but Can It Carry a Whole Country?

Colombia is not frequently shown in modern media, with the exception of “Narcos'” drug cartels’ internal monologues and the rare PBS documentary on the Amazon Rainforest. Disney’s 60th animated feature, “Encanto,” a whimsically magical picture inspired by Colombia’s Cocora Valley and the Quindo province, was released on November 24, 2021.

The incredible Madrigal family and their Casita, written by Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, showcase Colombian culture through the perspective of musical, magical realism in a way that is both novel and enjoyable for the whole family.

‘Encanto’ May Be Accurate, but Can It Carry a Whole Country?

The literary masterwork “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garca Márquez laid the groundwork for the magical realist movement in Colombia. Magic is a hidden, enigmatic thread that runs through all of human history and culture.
All of the Madrigal’s abilities, the Casita, and the fluttering butterflies throughout “Encanto” are prime examples of this kind of magic.

Alma Madrigal and her triplet children were given a miraculous gift from a magical, ever-burning candle after she and her village were relocated and she lost her husband. A house, a “Encanto,” a vibrant sentient “Casita,” and the ability to perform miracles for the benefit of the expanding community were all gifts bestowed upon the Madrigal family as a result of the miracle.

In the intervening years, Mirabel Madrigal, Alma’s helpless granddaughter, has decided to do what she can to prevent the miracle from being lost forever and to prove to the world that she is just as exceptional as her illustrious ancestors. Her family, the townspeople, “Casita,” and a cast of diverse animal pals round out the cast of characters who share in her adventures, misunderstandings, and victories.

The film’s plot, characters, cultural correctness, and soundtrack can all be evaluated independently.

‘Encanto’ Plot

At first glance, the plot may appear to be similar to that of another Disney musical about a young person coming of age, however that assumption would be incorrect. The film shows how the reality of violence in Colombia often forces families to uproot their lives. The disruption to family life and aspirations that this causes is very real.

Ultimately, a person’s deepest feelings for their family members may be skewed by a need to justify their worthy of belonging and conceal an overwhelming fear of being abandoned. Even while talking things out, processing emotions, and forgiving each other may seem like a quick fix, it can be a very difficult process for families to go through.

Every member of the Madrigal family shares stereotypes typical of Latino households, including myself. While Alma Madrigal stands firm as the family’s sure matriarch, her children and grandchildren each have unique “gifts” that can be used to aid the less fortunate. This understanding of magic and “talents” is consistent with the altruistic, Christian stance on charity held by the University of Dallas.

It’s fascinating to watch how their abilities mirror their inner emotional capabilities, challenges, and identities; Luisa’s gift of strength, though immensely beneficial, leads her to only find acceptance in carrying more than she can bear.

Few Minor Inaccuracies

Apart from a few minor inaccuracies, Encanto’s portrayal of Colombian culture is authentic because it was written by a Colombian. The town’s bright, colonial architecture is typical of the country’s “La Zona Cafetera” region, which is also characterised by wax palms and lush mountain ranges.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with a couple of extra capybaras if it helps illustrate the animation’s central theme—the incredible variety of Colombia’s flora and fauna, as evidenced by Isabela and Antonio’s powers. And the food in “Encanto” is delicious: ajiaco, panela, tinto, arepas con queso, huevos revueltos, empanadas, buuelos, and so on.

Last Words

Last but not least, Lin-Manuel Miranda did an excellent job of fusing traditional Colombian musical styles like Bambuco, Salsa, Merengue, and Vallenato into lively Broadway-like musical numbers that fit wonderfully with the vibrant locations and dramatic events.

Even better, the songs sung by well-known Vallenato singer Carlos Vives and modern Latino pop star Sebastián Yatra bring this creative recreation of a modern Colombian car radio bang up to date.

The reviewer gives this film 4.8 out of 5 stars and says it’s better than “Luca” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” two other Disney films from this decade.