Encanto Movie Review & Summary: Disney Brings its Magic to Enchanted Columbia

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Video Source – Walt Disney Animation Studios (Walt Disney Animation Studios YouTube Channel)

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Columbia, Encanto follows the magical story of the Madrigal family whose members miraculously receive magical gifts which they use to serve the people in their community called “Encanto”. 

Encanto Movie Cast

  • Stephanie Beatriz as Mirabel
  • María Cecilia Botero as Abuela Alma
  • John Leguizamo as Bruno
  • Mauro Castillo as Félix

Encanto Movie Review

Nothing beats a good Disney animated movie when it comes to blending great music and comedy with some beautiful visual respite for the eyes. If anything adds to the magic of a beautiful looking Disney animated movie, it is the fusion of various cultural nuances in its storytelling. Talking of magic, for its 60th animated feature film, Disney sets foot on the birthland of Gabriel García Márquez who deserves his fair share of credit for popularizing magical realism.

The story of the family starts when chased by soldiers on horses, Alma Madrigal (María Cecilia Botero) and Pedro try to escape with their three children. Soon, Alma loses her husband. Still being chased by her pursuers, the light of her candle acquires miraculous magical qualities. The light gets rid of the bad guys and then, emerges a living magical house, the Casita, along with a magical town surrounded by tall green mountains. The candle’s light becomes the protector of the Madrigal family and the townsfolk who look up to the family.

Over the years, the magical candle also generously gifts each member of the Madrigals with a unique magical gift. From super-strength to the ability to see future visions, you name it and the Madrigals have got it. Even if they don’t have any ability right now, it’s possible they would soon be gifted with it as the family continues to expand. But not everybody is gifted with magic in the Madrigals. Alma’s granddaughter, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), is the only one to never receive a gift from the magical candle. Being the mysteriously non-gifted and the odd member of the family, Mirabel continues to struggle to fit in.

Soon, she finds out that the magic is fading away and their house is breaking. Mirabel sets out to find the mystery behind the fading magic, save her magical family and in turn save the townspeople who depend on them. 

‘Encanto’ beautifully exhibits the Columbian setting of the film with vibrant, bright and colourful images bringing the Latin American flora and fauna to life on the screen. The movie also pays tribute to the historical heritage of the country. Even though ‘Encanto’ does not delve too deeply into the culture of the country it is set in like ‘Coco (2017)’ did, the film does enough to bring out the magical features of the country in a magical way.

The picturesque natural backdrop of mountains with the ample greenery and few endemic faunas, the portrayal of a close-knit family headed by a matriarch, and the importance of traditions and family values places at the centre of it, are all small checkpoints for the film on the way to paint an authentic portrayal of the Latin American culture.

Encanto is a Visual Spectacle

Encanto is a Visual Spectacle

Set in a small town, the magical setting of the film provides ample opportunity for the animators at Disney Studios to work their way towards grand and fantastical visuals throughout the film. Rich visuals mixed with rich culture makes the best treat for the eyes and ‘Encanto’ proves it quite well.

The music by Lin Manuel Miranda adds to the visual experience. Each song feels quite different from the other and is quirky, refreshing and belongs to the kind one might want to bob their head to. Almost every member of the Madrigals gets a song to sing and that adds some variety to the music while also becoming a tool for better characterization. The music is good yet not the best coming from a Disney production.

Beyond the technical brilliance which the movie achieves, what the film really banks its money on is the emphasis it puts on the importance of familial relations and reconciliation of individuality with the interests of the larger family. At its core, ‘Encanto’ is a story of a family which comes together and stands strong in the face of great danger.

Mirabel, the odd one, becomes the uniting force for this family, familiar with magic, to realize that the real magic lies in their love for each other. The story is emotional and something a lot of people might relate to. Mirabel is the quintessential protagonist who struggles to find a place with the people around her (in this case, with her family) and often feels left out.

In the end, ‘Encanto’ is not only the story of Mirabel trying to find her own magic (it’s a surprise, or maybe not) but the story of a magical family, living in a magical house, realizing that the true source of magic lies within them. In Mirabel, many millennials living in large families might find their reflection.

As much as the story is about Mirabel, the most relatable character, the story is more about the Madrigals as a family. Alma Madrigal, who went through her fair share of suffering to take the family to where it stands today, provides a mirror to many people who have had similar experiences. Alma’s great love for her family is also rooted in her fear of losing what she holds dearest.

‘Encanto’ tries to portray a family which was uprooted from where they originally belonged and when they began to believe that everything will go well forever, their greatest fear found new ground. In ‘Encanto’, the story of many families which have migrated to newer and unfamiliar places, in hopes to start afresh, is brought to life in the animated form with the vibrant visuals and melodious music of a Disney animated film. 

With the praise aside, ‘Encanto’ really lags behind in the story department. In its entirety, Disney’s latest animated production has very little to offer in terms of story. It feels more like a one-liner stretched out to make a film. The story is a bit too simple with nothing much interesting or new in it. Even though there’s a hook for the viewer to hold onto, up until when things finally reveal, the reward, in the end, is less than satisfying. For ‘Encanto’, more than what the story is, how it plays out becomes the selling point.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

Some great voice acting, stunning visuals, catchy music and detailed artwork makes ‘Encanto’ fun and entertaining to watch. If backed by a better story, the cultural setting and its nuances with the emphasis on family relations and values could have provided the film with the opportunity to be nearer to the marvel that became of ‘Coco (2017)’.

However, if there are any reasons one could find which are good enough to not watch a Disney animated creation, there are none to find here. ‘Encanto’ is what Disney does best great visuals, great music and great fun. 

Author

  • Shreejit is an aspiring writer and a journalism student. He loves philosophizing books and cinema. Coming to movies, horror and tragic romances take the cake for him. Thrillers excite him too but nothing beats a tearjerker tragedy of Shakespearean proportions on a gloomy Monday night.