Have you also had Encanto on a loop since the movie premiered on Disney+?
As a big musical theatre nerd and fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was super pumped after watching Encanto. I came out to the kids watching a new Disney movie. I did not know Encanto was coming out but happily plopped on the couch to join them. Ten minutes in, I said to my husband “Lin-Manuel Miranda was a part of the music of this movie. I know it!” A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions. I instantly loved the music, colors, and concept of the show. What I was not expecting is how much it would resonate with the symbolism throughout the movie. (Spoiler Alert! If you have not watched the movie, stop reading this post here.)
Mental Health Struggles: The characters throughout the film all suffer with mental health issues from anxiety to perfectionism. The toll of coming from this extraordinary family who supports and entertains this town takes a serious toll on the family members.
Generational Trauma: Abuela went through so much by losing her husband and being left with triplets, a magical house, family members with powers, and a whole town that expects her to protect them. Can you even imagine? That pressure to be perfect bleeds into the family starting with Abuela and her expectations of her loved ones. The pressure of each family is unfortunately passed down. I see it with my own children. They are mirrors of the parental and caretaker’s strengths and weaknesses.
Abuela Alma: Tonight, this candle will give you your Gift, mi vida. Strengthen our community, strengthen our home. Make your family proud.
Young Mirabel: Make my family proud
Luisa’s Character: Oof! Luisa’s character reminded me of how hard the firstborn has it (especially the daughter). There is a pressure to carry more than the other children within the family. I see that with my oldest; she inserts herself into helping mode. My husband and I must remind her that she is just a kid and does not need to worry about the logistics of us going on a trip or helping with every task Mommy is trying to accomplish. Her response is always “But I like being a helper!” I love that about her but know that as a parent I must check myself with the amount of pressure I put on my big girl. Lin-Manuel wrote Luisa’s song as a nod to the struggles his sister had to go through as the oldest. Here is what he had to say on writing the song for this character:
“I’m the baby of the family. I have a sister who’s six years older, and she got a raw deal. That song is my love letter and apology to my sister for having it easier. I watched my sister deal with the pressure of being the oldest and carrying burdens I never had to carry. I remember my parents woke my sister up to put together a He-Man playset for Christmas before I woke up. They wanted it to be fully assembled when I woke up on Christmas morning. I put all of that angst and all of those moments into Luisa.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda
“Clear Skies, Clear Skies, Clear Skies”: Poor Pepa! It’s tough to tell if Pepa controls the weather or the weather controls her. She is constantly trying to keep her emotional state calm to keep the weather beautiful. That is so much pressure! She is constantly stuffing her feelings and attempting to keep her anxiety at bay.
Inclusivity: It is fascinating that they chose to make Luisa a strong woman instead of a man! They could have easily chosen the character with the power of strength to be a man. Gender norms are a social construct. There is no one way to be a woman or a man. I see the intentionality of having a character that shows a woman does not have to fit in one specific box to be authentic to who she is and a beautiful human.
I also love that a Colombian family was featured! Disney has become significantly more inclusive with the stories that are being told.
Mirabel, the Family Truth-Teller: Mirabel is the family truth-teller. She is the one that is honest about the issues that are happening within the family and is willing to put herself out there even at her own expense. She loves the family hard and honestly. This person in each family is a gift even if they receive pushback in the process. The ending was a beautiful symbol that Mirabel holds the family together with this quality.