Today we’re featuring a guest post by one of Upcoming Pixar’s faithful readers, Karla! She discusses her meaningful connection to Coco.
When I was fifteen, in 2012, Pixar announced that they would be making a movie about Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. Although I had virtually no information about the production at the time, it felt like my two worlds were colliding as a Mexican and as a long-time Pixar fan. At the 2015 D23 Expo, Coco was officially introduced to the public and as evidenced by my Twitter archive, I went absolutely nuts. After seeing the first public image of Miguel, a boy I felt like I had already met before, I knew it was going to be a very special movie. In that moment, my love for Coco grew exponentially. Although many of my peers were skeptical about the movie being riddled with stereotypes (and rightly so!), I had faith in Pixar.
When I saw Coco for the first time in November, it felt surreal. I had been counting down the days for years and the date had finally materialized itself in front of me. As soon as I heard the beginning notes of the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star” in mariachi-style, I was hooked. From the start, using papel picado (tissue paper with cut-out shapes) as a medium, the story of Miguel’s ancestry was revealed. In his narration, two things Miguel said jumped out at me: “And the mamá? She didn’t have time to cry over that walkaway musician!” and “She found a way to provide for her daughter.” These statements strongly reminded me of the sacrifices mothers make in order to secure a livelihood for their children. Mama Imelda’s resilience and courage are traits that I see in my own mother. Considering I grew up in a big family, much like Miguel, I consider Coco an ode to my parents who taught me that family always comes first.
‘Remember Me’ (Lullaby) is an important song that resonated with the hearts of many immigrants across the world including mine. When people leave their country for a new beginning, a better life, they do so without knowing when they will see their families again. The pain of not being able to be close to your loved ones while they are still alive is resounding. ‘Remember Me’, for that reason alone, brings me to tears every time. It is a testament to the concept that neither love nor resilience can be bound by borders, no matter how many walls are built.
As a DACA recipient, I do not have the privilege of leaving the country and traveling to Mexico to explore my heritage. However, while watching Coco, I was able to immerse myself in a place that I have only been able to experience through stories and pictures. My favorite scene in the movie is when Hector was finally able to cross the bridge made up of brightly-colored cempasuchil from the Land of the Dead to the Land of the Living and visit his family. Hector expressed joy, excitement and relief all at once and although this moment may seem insignificant to some people, it meant the world to me.
It brings me joy knowing that so many people loved Coco, whether they were of Mexican descent or not. In a rare occurrence, my family felt accurately represented by mainstream media in the United States and I hope this marks a change within the entertainment sector. I also respect Pixar for making Coco available in Spanish in theatres throughout the country. It allowed many people in my community to enjoy this film without relying on the translations of those around them. After watching Coco in my native language, I was able to connect to it in an entirely different level.
I want to take a moment and thank the Coco team for creating a movie that has impacted my life greatly in a short amount of time. It was amazing to see the amount of people who contributed their stories as well as talents to the film. When I was younger, after watching a Pixar movie or flipping through an “The Art of…” book, I would get so excited when I saw a name that sounded like mine in the credits. It still excites me to this day. Thank you and I can’t wait to own Coco on DVD!
(Fun fact: Miguel’s village is named “Santa Cecilia” which refers to the patroness of musicians in Catholicism. Coco premiered on November 22nd, the day the Catholic church acknowledges as Saint Cecilia’s “feast day” or a day of celebration in her memory. Although the date of the movie was entirely coincidental, confirmed by Lee Unkrich, the connection was significant to me because I am a musician named Cecilia and I was confirmed in the Catholic religion under the same saint. Love it!)