“Encanto” explores Latino culture & family ties

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Disney

Watch Encanto on Disney Plus.

With the holidays upon us, the importance of family and connections is hard to miss. Disney’s “Encanto,” a film focusing on an ordinary girl in a magical, tight-knit Colombian Family, reminds us that family is often hard to navigate.

The Madrigal Family lives in a multi-generational household with a stark divide between the different generations. Mirabel, the main character, seeks to challenge the idea of tradition in hopes of breaking the cycle of generational trauma that’s plagued their family for centuries. Mirabel is the only power-less member in a family full of magic which manifests itself in many ways, from emotional weather control to healing through cooking. While this family’s great talents allow them to aid their community, they struggle to accept each other and risk potentially losing their powers altogether. Mirabel is tasked with ensuring the family is unified and retains their special gifts.

“I can see my family in them. Latino families are usually very traditional and this sometimes causes issues within the family. The magical element doesn’t take away from the idea of breaking trauma, but makes the idea easier to understand,” said Christian Tamayo (’22).

As the story progresses, Mirabel addresses the problems in her family head on, a task accompanied by much difficulty due to her lack of powers. Headstrong grandmas, bigoted uncles, and overbearing mothers serve as obstacles for Mirabel’s reconnection efforts.

“Her journey is relatable because she’s just like all the people watching her. She’s not special and that’s what makes her special,” said Tom Li (’22).

In this movie, there is no true antagonist. No evil villain seeks to destroy the family nor is there a monster that threatens their lives. The enemy is the divide between the family and their own biases that keep them from embracing each other–a sentiment that viewers can relate to.

“It is interesting that the story has no bad guy. It just really shows that sometimes ‘small’ problems are not really that small. They can have big effects on people,” said Tamayo.

Mirabel may not have the magical ability to conjure flowers from thin air, but she does have her own special ability: incredible empathy. This power helped her heal her family from the inside out and break the cycle of trauma. Encanto shows that heroes don’t need to be extraordinary, they only need to be motivated.