This beautiful animated film is set in Mexico around the holiday of the Day of the Dead, or otherwise known as Día de los Muertos. We start in young Miguel’s home and start to understand his family. His great great grandmother, Mamá Imelda, when her husband abandoned her with a young daughter to follow his dream of becoming a world musician, bans any sort of music in her life. This passes down generations and is accepted as a family tradition. Until… Miguel. Young Miguel finds his one love in the music his family so aggressively hates. On the day of the family, where photos are put up in memory of their loved ones, spirits are able to cross the bridge to watch their family in life. Although, it is this day, Miguel finally breaks and struggles between his love of music and family traditions. When Miguel tries to prove himself the musician he knows he is, he accidentally ends up transporting himself to the spirit world, to the Land of the Dead. However, there is a slight problem, Miguel must go back to the Land of the Living before sunrise, otherwise he’s stuck there forever. But it’s not that easy, he needs his family blessing to go back, although the family he’s with isn’t the one approval he wants. Instead he goes on a search for the greatest musician in Mexican history, Ernesto de la Cruz, his great great grandfather, the man who abandoned his family many many years before. On this adventure, he finds a companion in a desperate spirit man, just wanting to cross the bridge, although unable to without family on the other side presenting his picture. This is Héctor. Oh and I cannot forget that Miguel has a follower the whole way, Dante the stray dog.
This different Disney-Pixar is obviously heavily influenced by Mexican traditions, which is brilliantly new and it is an amazing film. Because of this, there are many Spanish songs, Spanish words, but this is obviously understandable and I think it worked great. It didn’t make any difference to whether you understood the film or not, because trust me I don’t know much Spanish at all and I still loved and enjoyed every part of the film, learning the family traditions in Mexico and falling into their lifestyle.
The voices of the film are brilliant and all can sing really well, which obviously is important for a music-based animated film. I was surprised to find out who the voices were after, as Héctor is voiced by Gael García Bernal (aka Victor from ‘Letter to Juliet’) and Ernesto de la Cruz is voiced by Benjamin Bratt (ie. Agent Matthews from ‘Miss Congeniality’), which both of these actors I had no idea could sing! Finally, introducing the star of the show, the voice of Miguel, Anthony Gonzalez, who is brilliant as the young boy and has a great voice to go with. The songs celebrate Mexico well; some are fun, and some are emotional and beautiful. Two of my favourites: ‘Un Poco Loco’ and ‘Remember Me’. I can’t say all are songs I would listen to repeatedly on their own, but they are brilliant in this film setting.
This animation is a fabulous film, I would definitely watch it again. It’s colourful and amazingly animated. It’s a film to make you think, a film to go through the emotions. Parts made me laugh, such as a selfie when you’re a skeleton means taking off your head and handing it to the person you want a picture with, or a skeleton falling off a bridge purposely to land in a heap of bones, to easily rebuild himself back up again. It was very clever. There were also parts that made me cry, I was actually balling my eyes out in the cinema. I was shocked in some parts, and it was heart-warming in others. I would definitely recommend this film if you think you would enjoy it, because I don’t think it is a let-down one bit!