I can remember when I was younger thinking that The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, was just a day that was essentially a Halloween celebration. Over the years, this perception has started to change but it wasn’t until I got to watch Coco recently that I truly began to understand what Día de Muertos really is.
Día de Muertos is a celebration of family. A day to remember the family that has passed and to tell their stories. Pictures of ancestors are arranged on an altar with their favorite earthly foods and possessions positioned with them to give the spirits, at least according to the film, an anchor to the living world to see their family.
Coco’s main story, while revolving around Día de Muertos, is all about family. The main character, Miguel, is a 12-year-old boy who lives with four generations of his family, going back to his great-grandmother. Coming from a family of shoemakers, Miguel works as a shoe shiner while the rest of his family tend to the shop, making the shoes. This profession dates back to Miguel’s great great grandmother, who was a self-taught shoemaker.
During the story, Miguel learns what his family history truly is and why his family feels the way they do about their work. He also was able to have interactions with the family that he never knew, even though they knew who he was. These interactions really hit the point for Miguel of why family and remembering who they were are integral to who you are and how you got there.
Coco’s tone is an upbeat one. While I usually correlate darker colors to the remembrance of passed loved ones, Coco’s take is the complete opposite. The color pallet is full of bright colors that give the movie an upbeat tone that allows a celebration instead of one of mourning.
The other part of the film’s tone, besides the color pallet, is the music. Coco’s music hearkens back to the age of the singing cowboy. This age was defined by movies of the western genre that would have the main character not only being a cowboy but also of singing about life on the trail. One of the songs included within Coco is the 2018 academy award winning song “Remember Me”.
While Coco is a look at what a family can be within the individual,it is full of comedic instances. Most of which comes at the expense of a street dog named Dante that follows Miguel throughout his adventure. Usually, Dante is doing something silly and has his tongue out in a strange matter that leads me to laugh.
Overall Coco is a beautiful film with a touching story. Using Día de Muertos as a central point in the story, it not only gives a bit of insight into Mexican culture but anchors the story deep in family history. Enjoyable for all ages and a film I do recommend for the whole family.