When a family member passes, where do you believe they go? Many believe in reincarnation and many believe they go to a better place. We all hold photos up in our households in order to remember them, but what if we were to forget about them in years to come? We all have an extended family tree of members who we don’t even know of and who are left to be forgotten.
Pixar’s Coco explores the values of death and what happens in the afterlife. An aspiring musician, Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is confronted with his families ancestral ban on music but enters the land of the dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer. does he discover his true musical ability or does he never find his father for the ultimate blessing?
Pixar is taking it to the next level. Previously, we had Inside Out expressing emotions as different characters within our brains, looking deeply into mental health issues and other medical problems. Now, they have upped the ante by taking on death itself. A subject difficult to put across within a Disney Pixar light-hearted animation but nevertheless, they take on the challenge.
Directed by Lee Unkrich and co-director, Adrian Molina, manage to subtly hide messages within the film, making an understanding of death easier to believe. Based in Mexico, Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, is the perfect segway to build Miguel’s story around. Usually, a sad time for most, for us to see death being celebrated on-screen creates a sense of relief and happiness. Furthermore, every scene revolves around family and how important it is for Miguel to remember that his family is always there for him. Considering this film is aimed primarily at a younger audience, it teaches them values and the importance of family in a fun light-hearted manner. They may not realise it but Pixar is taking steps to creating a series of films teaching us important day to day values. You could just enjoy the film but when you look deeper into the messages being portrayed, you can’t help but see them.
The checklist for a usual Disney animation contains an important moral lesson, an animal sidekick, an asexual romance and at least one frantic chase scene. Coco contains the latter and Pixar has followed those steps for years. Toy Story had a moral lesson about escapism, Frozen had Olaf (not an animal, but a snowman), Up had the love between grandpa and scout and finally, Coco had the frantic chase scene of travelling through the land of the dead. Most would complain that Disney Pixar has followed the same algorithm for years, but why change something when it doesn’t need changing? If it works and brings in audiences then there is no need to change what is making them succeed.
Pixar has come back to life (literally!) with their adaptation on death. With a soundtrack that makes you feel soft and fluffy inside along with the emotional subplots, you can’t help but fall in love with this film. You will find this emotional to watch, unless you have a cold-hearted soul like me then you won’t cry at all, I didn’t shed one single tear…
Okay, maybe one.