Have you ever felt excluded from your family? Maybe you haven’t felt as smart, or as good-looking, or as classy, or as successful as the people around you? If so, how did that make you feel? What did you do about it?
These were the questions directors Byron Howard ( Bolt, Tangled, Zootopia ) and Jared Bush ( Zootopia, Moana ) kept in mind to bring Encanto to the big screen. Encanto is Disney’s 60th animated film, and also Disney’s first animated film that takes place entirely in South America, in my beautiful country, Colombia.
Now, if in the middle of the wax palms, the arepas, the buñuelos, the nice coffee, the magic candles, the terrifying visions, and the secrets of the past, you have been left with doubts, or questions about the film, do not worry, because now, and without further ado, we’ll talk about Encanto in deep, and we will figure out what the ending means.
Let’s go for it!
1 | Where does Encanto’s magic come from?
Encanto’s magic stems from a miracle that occurred after Alma Madrigal (María Cecilia Botero) witnessed the murder of her husband Pedro, the father of her triplets. Alma was so deeply affected that she wished from the bottom of her heart, to separate herself and her children from such violence.
Her plea caused the surrounding mountains to close around the spot, preventing the passage to and from that place. The magic was channeled into a candle with the figure of a butterfly, which always remained lit, but the big question that remains is: who listened to Alma? Who caused the miracle? The answer is in the house.
When Mirabel first saw the cracks in the house, she was able to see faint symbols on the clay tiles that fell from the ceiling. Then we see these symbols again in the mysterious cave of Bruno. These symbols come from an indigenous culture, so it can be assumed that it is a local deity, which due to the geographical location of El Encanto, would necessarily have to be a Quimbaya deity, a pre-Columbian culture whose spirituality is associated with harmony and nature.
And although the candle that never goes out is the bridge between the deity and the Madrigal, the most interesting thing is not the candle, it is the house. La Casita.
2 | What really is the Casita in Encanto?
Disney usually animates things like teapots, candles, chairs, and even volcanoes, giving them life, giving little or no explanation about it. Or have you ever asked why the cups in Beauty and the Beast could speak?
However, in Encanto the matter of the house, la Casita, is very interesting. Although at first glance it seems to be simply an effect of the always-lit candle, what really seems to happen is that while the candle serves as a bridge, it is the house that is the origin of all magic and therefore, it is the physical manifestation of the spirit who heard Alma’s plea.
This spirit, to stay on this plane requires harmony.
3 | Why was the House cracking? Why was the Encanto dying out?
Whatever the source of the magic, it requires that there be harmony around it in order to manifest itself, however, as it became clear that the Madrigals were the only ones touched by this power, Abuela Alma began to assume that her responsibility, and that of his family was to maintain this magic, even at the cost of sacrificing the wishes and desires of each one of them.
Alma saw this guardianship as a privilege, a privilege that comes from the sacrifice of living exclusively to serve her community. But the truth is that magic, more than sacrifice, demanded harmony from them, which was destroyed by Abuela’s demands.
4 | Could the people in El Encanto get out of there?
The darkest thing about this story, and what is barely talked about in the film, is that – as Bruno said – once inside El Encanto it was impossible to leave. All the inhabitants of El Encanto are those who fled along with Pedro and Alma and their descendants. Very similar to the exodus of Jose Arcadio Buendía and Ursula Iguarán, which ended in the founding of Macondo, in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
However, one has to wonder if anyone was ever frustrated for that reason, and if that could be a cause for unsolvable conflict in the future. Would you feel good about living in Paradise, on the condition that you will never be able to leave?
5 | In what part of Colombia does Encanto take place?
Unquestionably in the Coffee Region. Or by extension, anywhere in the Colombian Central Mountain Range. Although there are many cultures and many ethnic groups in El Encanto, the type of vegetation, the climate and even the mountains are the same that can be seen in that area of Colombia.
6 | And why are there people of all ethnicities in El Encanto?
If you have ever been in Colombia, you could notice there are Colombians from a wide range of ethnicities, thanks to the mix of the three main source groups: White (European), Black (African) and Native-American. So, it is easy to find within the same area people from these three ethnicities and everything in the mix. Also, every region in Colombia is unique in their cultural expressions. We can see not only different ethnicities in Encanto, but also different cultural expressions, like the culture of the Colombian Caribbean, or the Colombian Pacific, or the Colombian Andean Region. But why?
The Colombian coffee zone has always been full of people from all corners of Colombia, since the coffee harvesting process always requires a large number of employees. It would not be strange at all if among the people who fled the town under attack, there were people from all over Colombia, from the Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast, the Altiplano. It would then be like a Colombian microcosm where all the cultures of the country coexist, or at least those that were represented by the people who fled the town.
7 | Why wasn’t Mirabel gifted like the rest of the Madrigals?
Let’s speculate a little – the spirit that keeps El Encanto had to feel at some point that harmony was fading away, either because of the frustration of not being able to leave the town, or because of envy of the Madrigals, and that those negative feelings would eventually destroy everything. However, the isolation of the village was linked to the miracle of the candle – because that was Alma’s wish. The only way to avoid the total destruction of the town was to change the original miracle, and let a new one began to shine. For this, the harmony within the Madrigal had to be altered and what better way to alter a family than the appearance of someone different within them? That’s where Mirabel comes in.
By not giving gifts to Maribel, this spirit simply planted the seed that would lead to chaos, which Bruno managed to see in his visions.
8 | Why did Bruno hide from his family?
Because he wanted to protect Mirabel from her grandmother’s rigidity, especially from her obsession with preserving magic at the cost of the happiness of her family members. If Alma had known from the start that Mirabel was connected to the destruction of magic, she would probably have banished her from El Encanto, fracturing the family forever.
Bruno did not want to reveal how little he had seen in his vision of the future, so he simply left, although he did not get very far high in the mountains. And finally he hid in the hidden part of his own house.
9 | What is the message of the movie Encanto?
The most important message of Encanto is to recognize each member of our family as valuable; Many times we tend to minimize people close to us, because they are not so outgoing, or so smart, or so attractive, or so elegant, or so successful, or simply because they are the so-called Black Sheep. But not because something is different, it means that it has to be minimized, much less destroyed. It is definitely a call to be unconditional in the fact of loving our family.
Likewise, there is a hidden message in the film. Abuela Alma represents the past trauma of violence, and above all the fear of suffering such violence again. That trauma and that fear generated that the new generations had to pay with their happiness for the Abuela’s need to feel safe. What Mirabel represents is a new way of seeing the world, a new perspective on how to heal and maintain magic.
Perhaps, those of us who experience violence in Colombia or anywhere in the world are afraid of returning to that darkness that for so many years gripped our people, and that is why we tend to be rigid and strict, but perhaps it is good, perhaps not to change from one day to the next, but to give the opportunity for other perspectives, other points of view to appear and propose new ways of healing.
What better way to take advantage of the ideas and experience of others close to us, to begin to heal?
Questions? Annotations? More doubts? The comments section is open just below this post so feel free to use it. See you in the next installment of Ending Explained here at El Sabanero X.