I wanted to watch Coco since I first watched the trailer. Being a new-age animated movie lover, I have watched almost everything this genre has to offer and still keep craving for more. When the film went on to win an Oscar, I finally sat down and watched it, and for the lack of anything better to say, completely lost my mind.
The story of the film follows a little Mexican boy called Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzales), who wants to become a musician, against the will of his family. When he tries to steal something from a dead musician on Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), he accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos, a widely celebrated traditional ritual in Mexico, is the day when families welcome the spirits of their deceased ancestors. Miguel, in his frenzied dream to become a musician, chooses this very day to leave his house to perform for the people. He steals a guitar from the deceased musician Ernesto de la Cruz’s (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) gravethus ending up with a curse whic hleaves him half-dead. As a result, only his dead relatives can see and feel him.
They quickly take him to the Land of the Dead to meet his great great grandmother Mama Imelda (voiced by Alanna Ubach). We soon learn that it was Mama Imelda who had forbidden anyone in the family to pursue music after her husband abandoned her.
Unwilling to compromsie with his dream by promising to give up his music, Miguel runs away again, risking death. He then tries to search for Ernesto de la Cruz, the deceased musician, who he believes is the great great grandfather who ran away from his family. Another friendly ghost, Hector Rivera, agrees to help Miguel on one condition: he has to put Hector’s picture on an Ofrenda so that he can go and visit his daughter Coco (voiced by Ana Ofelia Murguia) in the Land of the Living. The mesmerising journey that these two undertake leads to some shocking revelations, but as is the ritual in the Disney movies, everything resolves in the end, and we see a very promising Happily Ever After.
The reason everyone (children and adults alike) should watch the movie is its fascinating storyline. The story, which is based on an age old Mexican practice, is as classical as it gets. It shows us how important one’s family is in their lives. It teaches the young why they should never leave their family, which is a constant beacon of support and solace one has. On the other hand, it also teaches us how important it is to let the younger generation follow their dreams.
It is also a particularly telling narrative, in the context of the current political atmosphere in Trump’s America where all Mexican immigrants are branded criminals importing drugs and lawlessness. Miguel and his family are neither learning English nor trying to escape into America. They have everything that they hold dear in their little town, and in each other. The all brown cast of the film that topped the film charts across the world seem to be winking in the face of the chest thumping White supremacist rhetoric and unabashed xenophobia. Mexicans in Coco, as in real life, are a people steeped in their culture, too fiercely proud to even acknowledge the presence of a powerful adversary in the neighbouring land.
Other than the beautiful storyline, what left me spellbound was the music throughout the movie. Every song is Coco touches the heart, while ‘Remember Me’ lifts your spirit up and brings it crashing down to realise that people exist just as long they are remembered. To be forgotten alone is to die. Coco is a beautiful quest narrative, liberally endowed with spectacles, grandeur and soul-stirring music to drive the point home.