Mar 16, 2018
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews
Disney/Pixar’s Coco is a double Oscar winner, for best animated picture and for the best song, “Remember Me”. It is a phantasmagoria of sensual delights! In Mexico it is the highest grossing film ever. Worldwide it has earned 750 million dollars so far. It was released in November to coincide with Dia do Los Muertos, the Day of the Day, which is a very special Latin feast that coincides with the Roman Catholic All Saints Day and may contain elements harking back to an ancient ritual honoring an Aztec goddess. It is a day set aside to remember departed family members and to pray for them as they take up their spiritual journey on the other side. Altars are set up with pictures and preferred foods and artifacts favored by the deceased.
Coco is not the name of the protagonist but of 12 year old Miguel’s great-grandmother. Miguel lives in the town of Saint Cecilia. He is naturally talented and dreams of becoming a guitarist, his idol is the late Ernesto de la Cruz. The conflict is music. Music is absolutely forbidden in his multi-generational household ever since his guitar playing great-great-grandfather abandoned his family in search of stardom.
Through a series of abstruse machinations Miguel ends up in the land of the dead. To traverse back into reality he must be blessed with a magic marigold from his great-great-grandmother. He travels through this deathly kingdom with Hector, his guide. Time is of the essence because as long as he stays in the netherworld the more likely he is to remain there forever. He is accompanied on his journey by a goofy, salivating street dog named Dante who was modeled after Mexico’s national canine. We hear these characters through the voices of Latin American performers: Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, James Edward Olmos and Cheech Marin among others.
There is a major twist in the third act that absolves Miguel’s great-great-grandfather. The story can be enjoyed by a younger audience who will be absolutely mesmerized by the vibrant, pulsating images on the screen but sophisticated adults will not only be entertained but entranced as well because beside the obvious themes of love, family and the preservation of culture there are themes of betrayal, selfish ambition and murder! The artistry is breathtaking, bedazzling. There is so much going that sometimes the swirling fluorescent colors can be overpowering. Who knew that death could be so charmingly macabre?
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