When Colombia is brought up in conversation, a variety of things could come to mind. Perhaps it’s the bright, sparkling waters of the Caribbean sea that always seem to be just the right temperature to swim in. Or was it instead the emerald gems and gold that the country is known for commercially? The music which carries a beat that just makes you want to dance, delicious and warm coffee, the list goes on. The Walt Disney Company attempted, through their movie Encanto, released November 24, 2021, to encapsulate all of Colombia’s beauty in one brilliant animated movie.
Encanto followed the story of fifteen year old Mirabel Madrigal– the only girl to lack a supernatural power in her (large) family. Abuela, the matriarch of the family, seems exceedingly harsh on Mirabel, as she feels that the entire family must uphold the highest standards in order to prove themselves worthy of the supernatural gifts that have been bestowed upon them. However, with the magic candle that provides the entire family (and their talking house) with magical powers, Mirabel realizes that it might come down to her, and her lack of powers, to save her family’s abilities.
Though there are aspects of the movie that are quite obviously fictional, how accurate is the movie’s depiction of Colombian culture as a whole?
“[I think] that the movie holds a lot of our culture, principally the family dynamic and unity, which comes before any circumstance. Additionally, it captures our characteristic happiness,” said Magda Villalobos, a native of Colombia currently living in Bogota.
Culture, however, is influenced by the setting it is found in. Nancy Villalobos, sister of Magda Villalobos who is also living in Bogota, stated that the movie reflected not only the family dynamic but the “landscapes and fauna” of Colombia. Of course, she also added that the movie reflected characteristic joy.
Disney and all its helpers who aided in the making of this movie seemed to have done their homework this time. From a personal perspective, as a half Colombian, I absolutely loved the movie. It felt like it highlighted all the titular and best parts of the culture that I’ve been raised in, while placing all of it in a colorful, easy to understand format for anyone of any age to be able to enjoy. I will definitely be running to a theater to see this movie again, and once it releases on Disney+ on December 25, anyone in my vicinity is warned: do not be surprised to hear this movie on repeat!