Coco–a memorable cartoon with a message

CocoRare is the cartoon movie that manages to appeal to both the eye and the emotions. Many try, but few succeed. Evidently inspired by Japanese anime, Coco has both to the nth degree. I watched the film for the first time recently. The lushly vivid details and colors immediately seduced me. Then the story line swept me away. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it turned out to be.

Young Miguel wants nothing more than to play the guitar, but his family forbids it due to a shameful incident: his great grandfather abandoned the family to pursue a music career. Miguel’s ignoring the prohibition takes him to the land of the dead, where he encounters a world of colorful skeleton figures. Only by promising to forego music will his dead relatives give the blessing that allows him to return to the land of the living. Nothing doing. A search ensues to find his great grandfather, a famous star, the only one who might give his blessing for Miguel to enter a music contest.

The Imagery and Themes of Coco

The story weaves together several themes with Mexican imagery and concepts. We have Dia de Muertos, mariachis, canciĆ³nes, Aztec architecture, family bonds, lucha libre, skeletons, spirit animals, and Frida Kahlo. The presence of music, both thematically and in a selection of beautiful tunes, lends the story a special touch. The message—to be true to oneself, but not at the expense of others—is cleverly revealed through a series of episodes with surprising developments. What I call a tight plot, where nothing is extraneous. You don’t see how all of these things tie together until toward the climax.

The Music of Coco

The music originated from a variety of sources, which gives the movie an especially interesting vibe. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote “Remember Me,” the film’s key song (which reinforces one of its themes). Germaine Franco and Adrian Molino wrote or co-wrote a number of songs. Michael Giacchino composed the score. The traditional tune “La Llorona” makes an appearance.

For further info, see the IMBd site.

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