Remember when all you heard on the radio was ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’? I don’t. I avoided everything at all costs. The only glimpse I had was the song blaring on the radio during the drive back from a family dinner, and I didn’t realise we were halfway through the song. I recall thinking ‘Woah, this is way more contemporary than usual Disney movies’, with its use of deep bass and the iconic syncopated speaking rhythms that Hamilton star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is known for. I finally cracked down and sat to watch it whilst visiting my sister in Bristol, and was in for a treat!
‘A Colombian teenage girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.’
Disney hit us with another film filled with colourful, spectacular visuals that always kept eyes glued to the screen. The way Isabela’s explosion of flowers burst with vibrant hues enraptures you; the fantasy sequences are flamboyant and imaginative, no wonder kids love this film! As well as the colours, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical numbers were faultless. They adhered to the traditional Disney beats, the introduction to characters, the ‘I Want’ song, etc. and yet, the style and lyrics felt a necessary game-changer for future Disney movies.
Another aspect that made the film incredibly refreshing, was the diversity in character models – there’s no one body type or skin colour throughout, bringing that diversity that Disney has long-since been criticised for. There’s the viral story of the child who wrote to Disney asking for a Disney Princess with glasses, unbeknownst to her they were already designing Mirabel, Encanto’s protagonist, for the film. In the end, the co-director, Jared Bush, invited the child to the BAFTAs, where Encanto was nominated (and won) for best animation.
The diversity on bodies is also reflected in the voice casting. No voice sounds similar to the other, as everyone’s voices are so characterful and reflective of their character arcs and their magical powers. Jessica Darrow, the voice actor for Luisa the enchantedly strong sister, was my favourite out of the family Madrigal. When she performs Surface Pressure, you can feel the intense, gravelly tones to her voice that escalate the story progression. Stephanie Beatriz, the voice of Mirabel, who is mostly known for low-levelled-monotonous Detective Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, was unrecognisable. Whether it was because she brought such light to Mirabel or whether there was an obligation to perform ‘the Disney Princess voice’, it was an emotive, charismatic joy to listen to.
Even though the third-act of the film felt quite rushed in comparison to the in-depth world building at the start, that did not stop the tears flowing during the flashback sequence to the song ‘Dos Oruguitas’. The poetic scene transitions and use of camera movement made the whole song heart-wrenching, even if it felt a tad unearned. Though I am not a huge fan of sequels, Encanto has absolutely warranted a further exploration into their world and developing character relationships. A triumph in animation and musical storytelling!