“Encanto” – Disney’s best movie since “Frozen”?


Graphic provided by Movies Disney

Hope Nguyen, Staff Writer

This article contains spoilers for the movie Encanto.

“Encanto” is a story centering around the Madrigals, a multi-generational family living in their magical home in Colombia. Each member of the family was gifted with a miracle from a magical candle since young, all except one, Mirabel Madrigal.  One day Mirabel discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, and that she, the most ordinary member of her family, might be her exceptional family’s only hope.

Disney’s new movie “Encanto” is a phenomenal masterpiece of a movie which brilliantly demonstrates intergenerational trauma and the effects it can have on a family through musical numbers and witty dialogue. Even though it’s aimed at kids, the lessons “Encanto” teaches are universal and fit for all ages. The themes of generational trauma, the sad reality that refugees face, and toxic family dynamics are a warning to those who watch it to value the people around them, lest they lose sight of what really matters.

Mirabel Madrigal is an outcast from the start, alienated by her Abuela for not having a gift like the rest of her family. Although she tries to stay content to stand by the side as her family shines, deep down Mirabel wants to feel valued and loved too. However, it doesn’t stop with just her. Everyone in Mirabel’s family feels burdened by their so called “gifts” and the pressure from Abuela to be the perfect family, valuing appearances over genuinity.

Luisa feels the need to always be the strong older sister and never ask for help, Isabela must always act like the perfect granddaughter, going as far to marry someone she doesn’t love for Abuela. The stress and anxiety the rest of the Madrigals face due to Abuela’s strict and heavy expectations are apparent in the high-strung reactions and nervous tendencies they exhibit throughout the movie. The cracks in the house throughout the movie symbolize the family’s relationship with one another, healing when they make up with one another and growing larger when arguments and tension ensue.

Most importantly, it is shown what happens when someone is pushed too far, evident by Bruno Madrigal’s disappearance from the family and the villainizing the other relatives do to him because of it, using him as a scapegoat for obscure and random problems. Mirabel realizes he would go so far to leave the family despite his love for them, all to protect Mirabel from Abuela’s wrath. It is a stunning display of familial love and sacrifice for the good of others.

What the movie does great is not blaming a single person for all of the family’s problems, however. It goes as far as to humanize Abuela and show that she, too is imperfect and has her own problems and reasons for doing what she does. Her backstory is heart wrenching, showcasing the own expectations and pressure she was put under after losing her home to foreign invaders and forced migration, as well as the death of her husband Pedro, leaving her to take care of three kids and a whole village alone.

After Abuela realizes she was breaking her own family apart due to her overbearing ways, she seeks to atone for her behavior and apologizes for everything she’s done. What matters isn’t if she deserves forgiveness, rather that she is willing to change. The butterflies that appear on screen after her and Mirabel make up near the end of the movie symbolizes death and rebirth, a birth of a new change in the family to right all the wrongs that have been done.

It would also be a crime not to mention the spectacular songs and lyrics written by Lin Manuel Miranda, whose known for writing the ever popular musical of Hamilton. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100, surpassing Frozen’s Oscar-winning hit “Let It Go,” which hit number five. 

The movie overall was a perfect treat, coming just in time for Thanksgiving, a fitting time for appreciating family. “Encanto” has since acquired a large and supportive fanbase, many of whom relate to the characters in the movie as well as the family dynamics presented. Disney officials have clarified they are willing to go further and explore more with the Madrigal family, perhaps through a sequel or a Disney+ series, and people are ecstatic.

It is clear that whatever may happen with the story of the Madrigals, people will wait patiently and pounce when the opportunity comes to once again experience a timeless and emotional tale with fun for everyone.