‘Encanto’: Welcome to Disney’s Macondo!

Disney’s exciting musical film is set in Colombia and illustrates family relationships for better and for worse in a universe dominated by magic. We interview its directors who give us the 6 keys to the film.

When Gabriel García Márquez’s grandmother learned that her grandson had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, she did not understand: “If all you did was write stories you heard as a child …”. And something like that could tell his granddaughters Alma, the demanding grandmother of Charm, the magnificent new Disney film, which portrays a kind of Disney’s Macondo, full of magical realism, a film set in Colombia in which the Buendías have become Madrigal.

It is the first Disney film co-directed by a woman of Latino origin, Charise Castro Smith,
and its fabulous history, full of winks to García Márquez, it is one of the proposals that should certainly be noted on the agenda for the universal enjoyment it offers for children and adults, each in their reading levels. And also, with an icing that gets viewers dancing and singing as they leave the theater: its soundtrack produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and songs by Sebastián Yatra or Carlos VIves, incorporates vallenatos, salsa, mambo or even reggaeton. But Charm it is much more: emotion, literature, magic, color, joy … Its directors and screenwriters tell us how they built their story, which began 5 years ago.

Charm proposes the story of the Madrigal family, a clan in which all the children and grandchildren have some superpower that helps them protect the community in which they live in the mountains. But Mirabel, the protagonist of the story, is the only one who does not have any gift, or at least they know. The story begins when MIrabel discovers that in the magical house where they live, something is beginning to fail and the magic is in danger. But it will be she who has the key to undertake an adventure to save her. We explain in 6 keys why it is worth joining the MIrabel adventure.

1. The family

Before even knowing what story they were going to have Charm, its three directors and screenwriters were clear that they were going to talk about the family. Specifically, a large family that lived in the same house and where the positive and negative dynamics and the expectations that were generated were there. “Families can be wonderful but they can also be very complicated,” explains Byron Howard, one of the film’s directors, to SensaCine. “We created 12 main characters, which is very unusual in a Disney movie that normally has 2 or 3 protagonists, but we wanted each member to be very distinctive so that everyone could recognize someone from their family in each character “, Explain. And the film, when it rests and thinks, achieves it.

2. Emotional Education

Charm It makes us think a lot about our family relationships and the expectations that are generated and the efforts we make not to disappoint our own. “We wanted to talk about how many times we don’t know how our families see us and we don’t know exactly how to see our family in the right way,” Howard explains. And in that process we accompany Mirabel to discover her fears, the desires of hers, and our own.

Magic and a (not so perfect) family star in ‘Encanto’, the new Disney movie that restores optimism

3. The praise of the weird

In this story Mirabel, with her curly hair and green glasses, is the weirdo at home. The screenwriter and co-director of the film, Charise Castro Smith, explains that they created the character thinking about that feeling that social networks transmit in which you see the lives of others so perfect that you feel that yours is all doubt and confusion: “When you see their post on social networks it always seems that they know exactly what they are doing and while you have your doubts and sometimes you don’t understand who you are or how to function in the world and that’s where Mirabel came from,” explains the director who is of Cuban origin.


But MIrabel is much more than the weirdo at home. “She is a character that everyone can relate to. And one of the best things about this movie was taking the journey from where she begins with her doubts. with that feeling of feeling strange and that things do not work, until you have to empathize with the people in your family by looking more deeply“Explains the director, and in the end, that empathy turns towards herself.” And it’s great because she is capable of loving herself with the love she gives to others, “concludes Castro.

4. Colombia and Colombians

As the story is set in Colombia, in addition to trips to the country to discover and document it, the film team had the advice of a Disney Latino workers association called La Familia. During the five years that the process has lasted, they met with them to talk about their families, share food cooked by their relatives, or even dance.

“They taught us that joy was fundamental in the way of life of Colombians, family, music and food were key and they had to be in the film,” explains Jared Bush, another of the directors.

To create the world of Encanto they traveled through the most diverse Colombian cities and towns and the film is full of winks to all these places they visited. “From big cities like Bogotá, or places like Cartagena, to smaller places like Palenque or a tiny lost town called Barichara, which is what gave Encanto a lot of its vibe, we were also in the Cauca Valley in the middle of the Andes with those impressive mountains…. And all of that is what we have included in the film. We had to see a lot to capture the essence in a tiny piece of what Colombia is, “adds Bush.

Colombians who come to the cinema to see the film will recognize the river of seven colors, the environmental diversity, the ethnic diversity, the food, the costumes with their embroidery perfectly cared for and in addition, the film shows the drama of violence and the displaced, something that in Colombia has affected 8 million inhabitants.

5. Superpowers, magical realism and García Márquez

Charm is full of references to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez because according to its directors and scriptwriter they had it as a reference at all times. “We love the magic that he talks about and we found it great to be able to link that magic to the roles that each one of us plays in a family. We looked at our families and we thought about what role each one had,” Howard explains. So to choose the gifts of the protagonists they turned to those they found in their families.

“Who is the rock of my family that is there for everyone who does not need it? And that made her Lisa and the super strength. We all have in our family someone who is almost effortless perfection, then Isabella came along. We all have caregivers, or nurses and good cooks in our family who actually make us feel like they heal with their food, just like Juliet… “, adds the director.

So they saw in those familiar roles a direct relationship with superpowers and they were an ideal way to personalize the magic in the movie and make it mean something. “And after seeing the movie people start talking about their families and who’s who at home and it’s a great conversation after watching the movie.”

There are also several nods to One Hundred Years of Solitude, like yellow butterflies, a symbol in García Márquez.

6. Music as one more character

Music is almost one more character in the movie and it works. Lin-Manuel Miranda was in the process from the beginning. “I wanted to incorporate as many different styles of music as possible, and it’s wonderful to decide which style of music is appropriate for each character.. One of the best examples of this was Luisa’s strength. She has this strong character, so her style of music had to be influenced by him. reggaeton”, reminds SensaCine Charise Castro. And the cast of musicians proposed by Lin Manuel Miranda was joined by artists such as Carlos Vives or Sebastián Yatra.

The latter, a star in Colombia, is the singer of the song of the oruguites. “It has that timeless song feel, like it’s always been around and it’s perfect for that moment in the movie when Grandma Alma is talking about her story and explaining who she is,” concludes Charise.

Ecanto is the first musical film that Disney has made since Frozen, and it will hit theaters next Friday the 26th. And it is an essential proposal to watch as a family.