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Encanto, the latest animated musical from Walt Disney, features original songs by the ubiquitous Lin-Manuel Miranda. In theaters now, the film tells the story of a special family in Colombia with one member who struggles to find her place.
Each member of the Madrigal family has a supernatural gift given by the family’s magical home, Casita, which is alive with its own personality. They all use their gifts for the benefit of the neighboring village—everyone except Mirabel, who has no gift. But when something threatens Casita, Mirabel is the only one who can save the family.
Disney deserves some credit for abandoning its typical formula with Encanto. You won’t see a princess sing songs about personal actualization. The film celebrates community and doesn’t even have a villain. Instead, Encanto acknowledges the difficulties of family life when close relatives unintentionally hurt and disappoint us. The film also has much more singing than usual, and while this may not be Miranda’s best work, a couple of the songs are quite catchy.
Encanto draws a surprising amount of inspiration from Latin American Christianity. Themes of self-sacrifice and forgiveness undergird the narrative, and the characters never refer to “magic,” but instead always call their gift a “miracle.”
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