A fun fact about me - I was born on November 2. November 2 also happens to be Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican (and Central and South American) holiday for remembering and honoring dead members of one's family. I have no real connection to Mexican culture, besides appreciating it for its beauty, but I always felt a little connection because of my birthday.
I was reminded of this tenuous connection when I finally watched Pixar's "Coco." I know it's been almost a year since "Coco" came out, but I've never been on the up and up when it comes to watching movies, especially famous ones. I watched "Alien" for the first time last month. But, however long it took me to watch "Coco," I'm so glad that I did.
It was exquisite. That's the best word for it. The color, the character design, the voice acting, the music, the attention to detail - exquisite. I don't know what took me this long.
I have always loved animated movies, barring that one phase when I was around 14 when I thought they were for little kids because I was clearly ~so grown up~. But I have a deep appreciation for animation and how difficult an art it is. And "Coco" is no exception. There were a couple scenes that when I saw how detailed it was, I looked at my friend (we had wine night and watched "Coco" like the true twenty-somethings we are) with my jaw on the floor.
Visually, this movie was stunning. There were a couple of instances where I felt like I could just reach out and become part of the story. My friend remarked when we were watching that it's incredible that we grew up with "Toy Story" (still an amazing movie!) and that now the animation looks like this. Time has been so good to animation, and I am so happy that I get to appreciate it.
But more than just how beautiful it was, I was so touched by the story. Miguel's adventure into the Land of the Dead and on his path to discovering his great-great-grandfather while also pursuing his love of music in his musicless life was pitch-perfect. The music balances the story and both helps drive the plot forward while also being excellent to listen to on its own. I can definitely see why "Coco" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
I am consistently impressed by Pixar's ability to create movies that can take huge ideas like generational love, following your dreams, the importance of remembrance, and an explanation of death and distill them out to where even the smallest child can understand. They did it again with Coco. As an adult, it's easier to suss out the messages when they are being put forth. The construction of the story is excellently done, in that even as I can see these teachable moments, they feel natural, and exactly where the story should have gone. Having these stories has to make it easier to explain the big important questions to children, as well.
For example, months ago, I saw a video of this young boy who was singing the song "Remember Me," from "Coco." He was singing the song to the altar that his family had put up for his infant sister who had passed away. You can watch it below, but be careful - it makes me sob every time I watch it.
But this movie (and most of Pixar's cinematic canon) is incredible in that this four-year-old can conceptualize that while his baby sister passed away, that doesn't mean she can't hear him, and that doesn't stop the love he feels for her from getting to her. It opens up the conversation for parents to talk to their children about their loved ones who are no longer with them. To me, that is the most beautiful thing in the world.
I'm so happy I watched this movie, finally. It's full of love, heart, and amazing music. I can already tell it is going to be one of my favorite movies from Pixar. It's already written itself into my heart.