Encanto: A Love Letter to Latines Everywhere

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Ximena Mendoza

If you have a younger sibling, are a Disney-lover, or simply have scrolled through Tiktok recently, you might’ve had your ears blessed by one of the songs from the amazing movie Encanto. Many question the reason behind the success of this film and why they cannot stop listening to the soundtrack or rewatching the movie, (myself included). So,  what exactly is it that makes this film so special, or the reason behind the incredible response to this child-friendly movie?

Well, we can definitely contribute the musical success of the film not just to the amazingly talented voice actors, but also to the award-winning Latin composers Germaine Franco and Lin Manuel Miranda, who are both notable names in the industry. Franco is accredited for her work in the steller 2017 movie, COCO, and Miranda has written other extremely successful works like the Hamilton and Moana soundtracks. What makes the music especially significant is that all the tracks feature Latin artists and Latine American styles of music. This movie brings so much more appreciation for the Latin style worldwide, and the incredible love the Encanto soundtrack is currently receiving has led to most of the songs topping the musical charts! The hit song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is currently number one on the Billboard Hot 100, which is an impressive feat for even pop artists to dominate!

Encanto is a remarkable film because its characters and setting are another big step towards more diversity in mainstream children’s media. The representation of Colombian culture that the film depicts shows the beauty of Southern America and places its people in a positive light, as opposed to the rather stereotypical war-ridden and corruption-filled country that fills most American and foreign cinema. The characters themselves reflect the beautiful diversity of Latin America, and shine the spotlight on the less represented Indigenous and Afro-Latino populations. Central America especially is a culmination of different races and ethnicities that all deserve to have their identity as Latinos respected. Some might question why the inclusion is a big factor for the movie’s success. Well, as a Latine myself, I can say it was an exhilarating experience to see characters who finally look, talk, and act like me finally be shown on the big screen. The moment that I, and the other 19.5%  Latinos that make up the US population (according to the 2020 Census), saw this movie, it was an amazing opportunity to feel seen and heal the inner child who did not grow up with characters like Mirabel, Antonio, and Isabela. 

As much as the movie also pays homage to the culture, it also contains various messages about modern-day struggles in the Latino community. Many explanations exist to better understand the metaphor this movie is for, but issues like intergenerational trauma and pressures to succeed are addressed and interwoven into the characters, which resonates deeply with those affected and creates an attachment to this film. More emotional songs like “Surface Pressure’ and “Waiting on a Miracle” delve deeper into these complex issues. The song “Dos Orugitas,” according to Lin Manuel Miranda, best encompasses the theme of the movie and touches on topics that are extremely important to bring awareness to, such as the displacement of Indigenous communities in Southern America. 

Encanto is an extremely important movie to watch, as it is not only a comedic and beautifully animated film with great music, but is also a heartfelt message to Latines everywhere that we are seen, heard, and represented. If you can, watch the movie and experience the magic that is Colombian Culture.