How Disney's Encanto Uses Clothing and Color To Tell a Story About Mental Health
Why Encanto's god tier use of clothing, color, animation, music, and more is so good it defies description.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for all of Encanto. Read at your own risk.
Encanto is a movie which is so good it makes me angry. Like for real, I sit down and rewatch scenes (and rewatch, and rewatch...) and want to throw things at my screen while I shout “Oh you assholes, how dare you think of these details?”
Good anger, is what I’m getting at here. Much better than, say, Endgame anger where every time I think of that movie I come up with yet another reason why it was a shitty script barely held together by visuals and the shiny, jingling keys of fanservice which kept people from noticing, again I will remind you, how shitty the script was.
Also my apologies to any parents who were hoping to let their kids read this without swear words. I’ve got strong emotions here, I’m sorry.
Given that, as regular readers of the site know, I like to talk about media properties that do the work, what I thought I’d do is skip past the basic review portion of the discussion and go right into the part where we focus on the details.
Though if you want the quick and dirty review it’s that it’s a good movie. Good story about family and generational trauma with a narrative anyone can identify with and amazing music. I recommend it for anyone to watch. Four stars, which again regular readers know is my system stolen from Roger Ebert where four stars means anyone should watch it regardless of whether this is a genre of movie that is their thing.
Basic review taken care of, let’s discuss why it’s a good movie. Though to that end we have to do the Into the Spider-Verse caveat that it’s not possible to cover it all. There are far too many details here that were done and done well. You pick one thing and it leads to another which connects to another and so on.
To that end what I’m going to do is try to keep as specific a focus as I can. For example, knowledge of Columbian culture, such as the significance of yellow butterflies and the history of displacement in Columbia, adds layers of meaning to the film. However, I’m going to stick to talking about the movie in and of itself and not the outer connections. This is by no means meant to disrespect those connections, it’s just that this is an article and not an encyclopedia so we’ve got to stop somewhere.
Plus movies need to stand on their own. Symbols inspired by sources outside of the film cannot be like Easter Eggs which only work if you read and remembered a single panel from a comic written decades ago. It’s great for anything you put on the screen to have more meaning if you know the background but it cannot have no meaning for those who weren’t aware there was a list of required reading before sitting down and letting the opening credits roll.
Which, luckily, is a task Encanto succeeds at. Everything contained in the two plus hours of film works in and of itself, so we can talk about that.
(I know I just earwormed you and yes, trust me, we’ll be talking about Bruno.)
Granted even limiting ourselves to what’s in the movie is a lot so again for the sake of space I’m going to focus on the following: the story’s handling of mental health, and how clothing, colors, voice acting, and music come together to tell the story.
Let’s hit mental health first.
Encanto and Mental Health
Among the many things I liked about Encanto was that it had a kid-friendly way of handling mental health issues. Now to be clear, I’m not saying all of the characters in Encanto are mentally ill (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But what most of them do have are less than ideal coping mechanisms for the generational trauma in their family.
I’ll talk more about some of the specific songs in a bit when we get to costumes and color stories but Luisa’s Surface Pressure and Isabela’s What Else Can I Do? show two sides of what it’s like to grow up with the expectation that you cannot deviate from your defined role in the family. Luisa struggles with feeling she has no worth if she isn’t constantly helping others and Isabela feels she’s not allowed to show her true self and emotions, particularly the “sharp” or negative ones (the latter of which is an issue she shares with her Tía Pepa.)
I was reminded of the old cartoon about how it’s okay to get mad. Luisa, Isabela, and Pepa don’t need to have a full on diagnosis to be representations of people who have a hard time advocating for themselves, their emotions, and their boundaries. Frankly it’s a good lesson for many adults watching the movie, let alone kids.
Somewhat further on the line of mental health issues is, of course, Bruno. Now at no time is he said to have mental illness but regardless of whether or not he was specifically intended as such, he does work as an example of someone with OCD.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - true OCD, not people who think it’s funny to joke about how they are “so OCD” because they like having a tidy silverware drawer - is when someone cannot help but engage in repetitive behaviors because doing so helps them handle feelings of anxiety, and even thoughts of doom about themselves or loved ones.
Bruno, then, at bare minimum is a family friendly way of broaching this topic. He actually had a vision of something horrible happening to his family and he repeatedly does things like knock on wood or throw salt over his shoulder on the odd chance doing so will help keep that vision from coming to pass. Whether or not Bruno actually has OCD, he’s still a useful example for someone looking to start a conversation about what it’s like.
More to the point, what I liked is that at no time are Bruno or his behaviors treated as freakish or wrong. Yes, Mirabel is taken aback when she meets Bruno but what affects her is his whole situation. She realizes he’s been without human contact and longing for the company of his family for over a decade. Holding his breath and crossing his fingers while he crosses a threshold is treated as no different from only having rats for friends (which, I’ll remind you, Cinderella did as well so it’s not like this is unusual in the world of Disney films.)
On top of that Bruno’s behaviors aren’t treated as annoying, or things that must specifically be fixed. For example, when Bruno sets up for the expanded vision Mirabel never gets impatient with him or scolds him for taking the time to throw salt over his shoulder. When they’re rebuilding the house nobody makes fun of Bruno for being “Jorge” as he makes the spackle. At no time does anyone insist that Bruno has to have a Dumbo moment of getting rid of the feather so he can fly.
I’m not saying that maladaptive behaviors based in mental illness shouldn’t be addressed. Trust me, though I don’t have OCD I still do plenty of things which my therapist and I are working on stopping. But for the movie what is nice is that this isn’t the sadly stereotypical disability narrative where the only way Bruno gets a happily ever after is if he isn’t disabled anymore. Within the timeline of the story the good ending for all of the Madrigals was realizing that the old way of handling things wasn’t working and they needed to come together and find new ways to be a loving, supportive family. Bruno got to join in on that the same as everyone else. He didn’t have to “earn” the right to be there with the others by also having his mental health issues go away.
It’s also a wonderful symbolism that Bruno can have his issues yet still be a part of rebuilding. We see him using his sand to pour the outline for the new foundation, for example. A supportive and loving family can still have members in it who aren’t perfect or healthy, and those family members can be just as valued and important as everyone else.
Speaking of symbolism, let’s start talking about colors and clothes and how they also support the narrative of the Madrigals learning to rebuild.
Encanto’s Costumes and Color Story
Let’s start out with a helpful protip. One of the comments I often see about Encanto is that people can’t tell who’s a cousin and who is a sibling to Mirabel.
To help out with that, scroll back up to the title card for this article. Take a look at the picture. Notice how everyone is grouped together? Pepa’s family shares the same warm color of amber, Julieta’s is in cool shades of blue. So if you see someone in amber? They’re a cousin. Blue? A sibling.
At its most basic level this is great color story because it works as that character key. Granted Julieta’s family is a bit visually confusing because they don’t share the same shade of blue. I suspect this is the reason why many people don’t twig to the color coding right away.
I’ll dig into the clothing and colors on Julieta’s family in a second. But for Pepa’s the similarity works on a musical level. As we’ve discussed before, musicals give songs either to characters we’re meant to care the most about or about characters we’re meant to care the most about. Pepa’s family, as wonderful as they are, do not get their own songs. They only show up in ensemble pieces, such as We Don’t Talk About Bruno, which is pretty self explanatory as to which character is the focus there.
So putting all of Pepa’s family in the same shade of amber is a visual way of moving them to the background as supporting characters, not main. Yes, they all have distinct clothing and I’ll get to that in a second. But for a viewer who doesn’t want to have to pay super attention on their first watch it works for the movie to teach their brain “hey every time you notice somebody in this color you don’t have to worry about them as much.”
Conversely Julieta’s family is more scattered. And I think an argument could be made that they should’ve gone with more similarities in the color scheme here. I get why they have the different colors but I think they could’ve achieved the same effect with similar tones instead of confusing things with half the family in teal, half in navy blue, and Isabela seemingly on her own.
Mind you, there’s a reason for all that and I’ll get to it. But the argument could still be made they could’ve handled it differently so it was clearer to the audience.
Before we get into those details, though, let’s talk about the clothes.
One of the reasons I like good clothing design in animation is because it helps to show how clothing can be used to tell a story. You can’t make the argument that maybe they just put Anthony Mackie in a red shirt because that’s what wardrobe had handy that day. People had to sit down and figure out what characters would wear, why they would wear them, and design and animate those clothes accordingly.
Now of course animated shows can just put a character in a skirt and blouse and it’s just a skirt and blouse. But Encanto doesn’t do that. Instead it put ridiculous levels of information into these clothes and once again each time I notice something new about them I throw things at my screen and scream “How dare you?”
Keep that picture up top handy because it’s a good reference.
Got it? Okay. Let’s start with how every Madrigal’s clothing is a symbol of their powers. Isabela’s flowers are obvious but how about how the pattern on Dolores’s blouse is of soundwaves? Luisa’s skirt has dumbbells. Julieta’s apron has a mortar and pestle, which is used both in cooking and in making medicine. Camilo has chameleons and Bruno has hourglasses. Pepa wears earrings which look like the sun and the cloth holding her hair back has lightning bolts. Also Pepa’s dress is her wedding dress dyed in amber and orange to make the ruffles around her neck look like sunbeams.
(I’m getting to her wedding outfit, believe me.)
Mirabel’s clothing is going to be a whole conversation in and of itself but to understand her clothes we have to look at the puzzle pieces we get from her family. So one thing we’re taught is that when we see a Madrigal in an outfit that outfit symbolizes their power. Yes, I know there are people who argue that the story ends with Mirabel still having no powers. I will get to that, trust me.
All right, so clothing = power. What else do we get from clothes? Well we get colors. Again, Pepa's family is all in amber with red accents. It ties to the sunshine aspect of Pepa’s powers and shows they are all related.
Julieta’s family is different because they have different shades of blue. So let’s look at that. What color is Julieta in? Teal. Who else wears teal? Mirabel with her teal skirt. This is the visual version of the lyric “She takes after you” in All of You. Mirabel is in teal because she’s most like her mother.
(Huh, what was Julieta’s power again? Wonder if that’s significant to Mirabel’s story at all. Gosh such a mystery....)
Conversely Luisa is in dark navy just like her father Agustín. She, who takes on the heavy burdens and never complains about how hard it is, takes after her dad who gets stung by bees a thousand times over and never seems to mind.
Which brings us to Isabela. This is where, again I get it, but I can also see the argument for how they could’ve handled it differently to make Julieta’s family more visually connected. But let’s talk about what they’re doing by taking a step back.
Once again looking at our family photo, who else do we see? Abuela Alma in magenta.
(Hey, do you think shades of yellow, red, and blue tie in to anything related to the country the story takes place in? Again, such a mystery.)
Compared to the others, Abuela’s clothing is seemingly simple. This ties with how she doesn’t have a power like the rest of her family does. The symbols we do see her wear are family related. She has butterflies which symbolize the Madrigal family (you may have noticed that by how butterflies are every fucking where in the film and also how there’s a sure to be Oscar nominated song about the topic) and of course her shawl which is a cultural and symbolic sign of her mourning the loss of her husband. Her grief is also shown by the teardrop shapes around the collar of her dress and in her earrings.
But how about that magenta? Given that the story is about how the survival mechanisms that Abuela Alma took on to ensure her family lived though tragedy are a huge factor in the family’s current sadness and dysfunction, is there anything that visually ties Abuela Alma to the struggles her family is having?
I dunno, let’s ask Luisa.
During Surface Pressure the screen is flooded with magenta whenever Luisa sings about how much stress she’s dealing with. And before you argue that shades of red can be considered angry colors so of course it makes sense to use them for the background, consider the other visuals we see for that stress: heavy rocks, dirt, and metal. The movie could’ve just as easily used earthen or metallic colors to tie in to those symbols. Instead it’s Abuela Alma’s magenta over and over again.
And if you think it’s coincidence check out the color of the blankets on the donkeys when Luisa does her first “like a drip drip drip that’ll never stop” compared to the color they’re wearing when she’s having her fantasy about shaking the crushing weight of expectations. Remember that everything we see had to be drawn and colored by a human being and when the colors are that obvious and uniform it’s a specific visual point and not an error.
Then go back to Luisa’s skirt and notice that the pattern on it isn’t just weights, it’s weights highlighted and surrounded by purple.
What color does magenta and blue make again?
Let’s now go back to Isabela.
Isabela has her flowers but what’s her color? Pale violet. Which yes, is a color of a flower. It’s a color even named for a flower. But once again what do you get when you mix magenta and blue? Who also gets a song about how she’s struggled under the demands placed on her emotions and behavior on behalf of the family? Who’s responsible for placing those demands on her again?
And, last question of this pop quiz: what was Isabela’s response to those demands? She quashed her emotions down. She hid everything she was feeling which wasn’t a happy, pretty, perfect demeanor.
Putting Isabela in pale violet is the visual representation of her issues. Which is made even clearer in What Else Can I Do? when Isabela not only starts making spikey and dangerous plants but changes the colors of her flowers and herself away from pinks and reds and into bold shades of yellow, navy blue, and green. As Isabela finds a healthier path she visually moves away from the affects of Abuela Alma on her and connects to the color palette of the rest of her family.
(Sadly this is one of the videos only available on YouTube in lyric form but on the other hand note how the lyric videos for Encanto are color coded to tell you which character is singing. Just on the odd chance you thought I was pulling all these connections out of my backside. I’m just saying.)
(ETA: They uploaded a version with the visuals, yay!)
So on the one hand, yes, Isabela being in pale violet when the rest of her immediate family is in more obvious shades of blue adds to the visual confusion which makes it hard for people to twig to Julieta’s family sharing a color scheme at all. But on the other hand Isabela’s colors being muted and too influenced by magenta is part of the point of what’s going on with her psychologically. I’d be curious to find out if they ever did tests to see what it would be like if Isabela had been in a very pale blue instead of violet. Though as I say that I realize that might have evoked the sky and caused confusion with Pepa’s weather powers so maybe they made the right call.
Which brings us back to the last color of the family, which is Bruno in his green. And this is all tying back to Mirabel, I swear.
In the movie green = Bruno = the future. Bruno wears green. The glass made by his visions is green. The wall in the kitchen he hides behind? Fucking green.
(Picking up on that during a rewatch was another moment of me swearing at my screen. Seriously, how dare they pay so much attention to detail?)
What else is green in the movie? How about the walls of the nursery, which is where the future of the family lives until they get their powers?
Want another example of green? Mirabel’s glasses.
Get prepared to get angry about how much detail went into Mirabel’s character design. You may want to keep a pillow handy so you don’t throw anything at your screen which will actually damage it.
As we’ve discussed, Mirabel’s skirt is teal. Teal is Julieta’s color. Julieta’s power is to heal. Regardless of where you fall on the side of the argument of whether Mirabel did or didn’t have a power, what can’t be argued is that Mirabel’s role is to help her family find a way to rebuild and to heal.
Green is the future. Mirabel’s glass frames are green. Mirabel sees the future of her family but not easily or without aid.
This goes back to another common question which is why doesn’t Julieta’s food fix Mirabel’s vision? Part of the answer is that we don’t actually see Julieta healing anything which isn’t a recent wound. There’s no scenes of her gently feeding arepas to someone bedridden with cancer, for example. It’s all bee stings, cuts, and broken bones. Which, granted, doesn’t necessarily mean she couldn’t help someone with more complicated health needs but at bare minimum the movie’s not giving us concrete evidence of it.
But more to the point Mirabel’s glasses are an important symbol. Again: they’re green. They’re not the blue of Julieta’s family or even the magenta of Abuela Alma’s impact on Mirabel’s life. Green. Green for the future. Green which means seeing the future and frankly putting them on glasses is a bit like the production team adding a sign saying that they wanted to make sure the symbolism wasn’t too subtle for anyone.
(And in case that was too subtle there’s also the thing where they repeatedly say “Open your eyes” and “See” just in case you didn’t pick up on how the ability to truly observe something was important.)
So Mirabel needs glasses and needs green glasses because it’s a symbol of part of her role in the family. She can see the way forward but not without tools.
What else is that symbol? Her clothes.
Mirabel realizes what’s missing in her family and helps them figure out how to fix the cracks and rebuild to be better and healthier in the future. Again regardless of whether you believe this is Mirabel’s miracle power or Mirabel being Mirabel (or both) the point is the same.
We know the clothing the Madrigals wear shows their power. What’s on Mirabel’s clothing?
The entire family history which she embroidered herself.
Seriously, I am so god damn angry at this movie.
Mirabel’s base skirt is teal. Her blouse has a butterfly pattern on it. Everything else she added herself. The pink butterfly on her shoulder, the flowers and weights and animals and candles and her name and the family name and the whole fucking Madrigal story which she put on there herself because unlike the rest of the family she didn’t get symbols and powers handed to her she had to work for them and she was the only one who saw the need and literally stitched it all together with her two hands and her passion for the family and after the flashback to Mirabel’s fifth birthday it is what she wears as our first real introduction to her character and it’s the entire god damn movie about how she’s the one who will save the family through her hard work and dedication and it’s represented in her clothing and I am SO FUCKING ANGRY AT THIS FILM.
So hey speaking of clothing...
Encanto’s Dedication to Dance, Music, and Animation
It is a complete failure of Encanto’s marketing department that they didn’t send this video showing dance references for the animation directly to my eyeballs and then rely on my primal scream of joy to advertise the movie to the rest of the world because, I assure you, I would scream that loudly.
Have I mentioned I love dance? I don’t know if I ever talked about how much I love dance.
The main choreographer for Encanto was Jamal Sims with Kai Martinez doing the references and consulting for the animation. The level of detail put into the film includes how each character moves in a way that ties to a dance style which connects to them physically and emotionally. Which, let’s be real, would have been enough to sell me on this being the best movie ever made because again have I mentioned how much I love dance?
You see this most obviously in We Don’t Talk About Bruno where each character has their own dance style as they sing their verse (or move around tables). We Don’t Talk About Bruno is also a great song for understanding the characters musically because they sing to the same music but use a different beat and cadence, which again ties to how they are dancing.
The music is also used to symbolize the characters in the same way that their clothing does. When Mirabel sings Waiting On a Miracle she’s using a waltz, putting her musically out of beat with the rest of her family. In What Else Can I Do? Mirabel sings some verses in a way which evokes Isabela’s verse in We Don’t Talk About Bruno, helping to show that what’s happening right in that moment is the outcome of the vision Isabel sung about earlier.
The list goes on and on. Look, when Lin-Manuel Miranda is on the man plays chess not checkers. It’s not a coincidence that in Waiting On a Miracle Mirabel sings about how if she could she “would move the mountains / make new trees and flowers grow” and hey did you notice two of the things she happens to do later in the film? Like help Isabela learn to make new plants and cause a crack in the mountain which allows her and Abuela Alma to visit the river which is the last step in what’s needed to help heal the family? Which bee tee dubs Mirabel also sings about how she would “heal what’s broken”?
And if you’d like something which actually is more subtle try the multiple layers of meaning in All Of You when Mirabel and Abuela Alma sing “It isn’t perfect / Neither are we.” Just in case you were wondering which other family member Mirabel is connected to besides her mother.
Bringing this back to the animation, though, let’s take time to give a shout-out to the god tier level of work that went into this film. Here again I’m going to point at We Don’t Talk About Bruno because it thoughtfully features the most characters.
There’s a lot of work that goes into animation and if you want a deep dive you can see Disney’s own website on the subject. Obviously there’s things like what we’ve already talked about: designing the characters, figuring out what they’ll wear, what they’ll look like, and how they move.
But in terms of animation progress something we can look at is how detailed their movement is. For example, hair.
Animating hair can be a pain in the butt and animating the physics of curly hair is even more annoying. Put simply, it’s much easier if every strand of hair behaves the same way, which for the most part straight hair tends to do from root to tip. Unlike curly hair which isn’t uniform in each individual strand, let alone the entire head of hair, and that’s not even getting into the different types of curls that exist.
Bearing that in mind, watch We Don’t Talk About Bruno starting from Camilo’s verse and notice how they handle the back and forth differences and movement of Camilo’s curls versus Bruno’s waves. And in case you’re not fully appreciating how difficult this is remember that they also have to keep the movement of the hair in time with the dance moves and beat.
For each individual strand.
Yeah I wouldn’t want that job either.
There’s also clothing, and luckily here I can use pictures. Because in addition to animating hair another thing which can be difficult is animating the movement of cloth. One part is similar to the hair problem: if you have a piece of cloth, there’s physics about how it will move. The physics will change depending on things like the type of cloth. A light cotton won’t move the same way as a thick canvas sail for instance.
Then throw in the part where the cloth is on a human body, so has to move according to the physics of the material but also the movement of the person it’s on. Then add in that these people are often moving very quickly to different dance beats.
Then imagine adding in clothing with ruffles.
You can start to see why, if you scan social media, anybody who talks about Encanto who has even a vague knowledge of the difficulties of animation was shouting out “Oh dear god who was your cloth team????” because wow did they do good work. Check out this picture of Pepa at her wedding:
Ignoring all the other elements in this shot, including the hair and constant attention to detail paid to the background characters (such as making sure they always moved on the beat and were doing individual actions instead of just standing there), notice the folds in Pepa’s wedding dress. See how they had to deal with all those ruffles around the neckline, including the movement created by the shrug of her shoulders and the way Félix touches her. Notice the difference in the cloth on each of Pepa’s arms, since their positions are putting different tensions on each sleeve. Also notice the movement on the cloth across her abdomen and how it has to stretch and fold depending on how she dances or stands.
Then if that wasn’t enough we’ve got this:
Félix’s clothes aren’t just moving they’re wrinkled. That’s just showing off at this point.
Encanto’s Voice Acting
As regular readers of the site know, we love to show appreciation for the difficult job of voice acting around here. To that end I wanted to take a moment to shout out Stephanie Beatriz for the amazing job she did as Mirabel.
It makes sense that she would since she’s got a good history of voice acting credits under her belt. And you can hear all the skills she is bringing to the party.
As a reminder - or for those here for the first time - the thing about voice acting is that the only thing the actor can bring to the table is their voice. Yes, Disney takes inspiration from the physicality of the person in the booth but ultimately voice is the only thing making that character real. The best animation in the world can’t save a character voiced by somebody who sounds as though they’re still asleep while reading their lines.
I’m again going to link to Troy Baker talking about filming a scene in The Last of Us because he explains the concept of how much information can be conveyed just through the voice. (Again, The Last of Us used motion capture but it was still Troy’s voice doing the heavy work for the emotional journey Joel was going through.)
Keep that in mind and then rewatch the scene where Abuela Alma finds Mirabel by the river and keep your eyes closed. Listen to how Stephanie conveys Mirabel’s sorrow as she talks about how she never wanted to hurt the family. Listen to the way her voice catches on some words, and how the tone goes up and down as Mirabel tries to talk through her tears.
Contrast that with other scenes, such as Mirabel’s embarrassed “Mom!” during The Family Madrigal or her gently said until she’s squeezed tight “I think you’re carrying way too much” at the end of Surface Pressure. These are extreme moments, sure, but they give an idea of the range that Stephanie had to cover with just her voice. She did all that and everything in between. Amazing stuff.
It’d be impossible to encompass all of the things not mentioned in already but just to share some final foods for thought:
- For my fellow lovers of dance, there’s this interview and this other interview with the choreographers.
- There are more videos out there which show the live action dance used for reference but I’m not going to bother to link because we know how fast Disney loves to pull a copyright claim. So I’ll just say that if you search YouTube you might find them.
- My nomination for most Lin-Manuel Miranda verses are a tie between “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus’?” and “Can I deliver us a river of sundew? / Careful it’s carnivorous, a little just won’t do.” The former for the pairing of casual vernacular with classic imagery and the latter because the man does love his “When there’s trouble you / call DW” style rhyme pairings.
- Though if we’re going for the one which sounds most like Lin that’d be Bruno’s entire verse in All Of You.
- If the singing voice of Abuela Alma sounded familiar that’s because it’s none other than Olga Merediz, aka Abuela Claudia from In the Heights.
- Seriously, you are never going to stop counting if you look for all the butterfly imagery in this film.
- If you wonder why the biggest thematic song is Dos Oruguitas and not Dos Mariposas remember that caterpillars basically completely dissolve in the cocoon before they emerge as butterflies. One might even say it’s as though the house of their bodies has to be totally destroyed before it can be rebuilt into something better. Not that there’s anything in the film that could possibly tie into that imagery, of course.
- Pay attention and you’ll see the crack in the wall that Bruno used to look into the dining room long before they tell us about it.
- If you can manage to take your eyes off of Dolores and Mirabel during We Don’t Talk About Bruno you’ll see Bruno sneaking around on the balcony above them.
- More bits of attention to detail include Dolores mentioning that the rats in the walls are worried about the magic before we learn that Bruno has befriended those rats. Based on what we learn later we can assume Antonio is the one who told Dolores about the rats’ concern.
- A great visual detail is when Dolores sings about what Bruno told her about the man of her dreams we see her blocked by flowers, first in the box on the railing and then along the column as Isabel decorates it.
- Camilo has very little screentime but was blessed with a Kate McKinnon-esque ability to liven a scene just by his reaction to it. My personal faves are his WTF face when Dolores elbows him in All Of You and then later when he drops a shovel and tries to play it off.
- If you don’t start ugly crying at Dos Oruguitas and not stop until the end credits roll I don’t even want to know you.
- On the odd chance it matters, I am firmly on team Mirabel Always Had A Gift. Her gift was the same as Abuela Alma’s, namely the ability to ensure the continued survival of the family. This is represented by many things which tie Mirabel and Abuela Alma together and is brought home (heh) when Mirabel puts her doorknob into the rebuilt Casita and a door appears with the picture of the family with Mirabel at the center of it. Mirabel didn’t get a door on her fifth birthday because she didn’t need a door.
- Moreover, Casita, which was as much a symbol of the family as the candle was, always responded to Mirabel more than anyone else. This particularly stands out when Camilo, Isabel, and Mirabel are trying to save the candle. Camilo and Isabel’s powers fade and Casita can barely help them as they fall, whereas the very last act of Casita’s powers before the candle dies is to build a protective barrier around Mirabel to save her.
- Again if you need reminders about similarities between Mirabel and Abuela Alma, there’s the way they both wave hello to Casita when Casita appears with its magic fully intact.
- If I had to give notes on any of the visuals it’d be that I think they could’ve done a better job of distinguishing Bruno and Julieta as babies. Pepa with her red hair is obvious but the blankets on Bruno and Julieta weren’t colored distinctly enough to make it clear which was which.
- I keep asking myself if Encanto is as good as Into the Spider-Verse. It is 100% up there in the same tier. But if I could only pick one I’d give the nod to ITSV purely because, in addition to doing the work, ITSV also invented entirely new methods of animation in order to tell the story the way they needed to. If not for that extra effort I’d say they were neck and neck. But even so this is Olympic level of difference where it’s ridiculous things like a millionth of a second which is the difference between first and second place.
- Updated to add: Here's an interview about the design of Mirabel's outfit which confirms the symbolic intentions behind her glasses.
- Updated again to add this notes on a scene about Antonio and Mirabel's gift ceremonies.
And that’s all she wrote. Again, we could go on and on and ON about all the details and probably never touch them all. I’ve got to stop somewhere.
I will say that I’ve got my eye on a favorite music-related YouTube channel to see if they do an analysis of the score of this film, so I’ll update this article with a link to that if it happens.
In the meanwhile, thanks for reading!
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