Disney’s Encanto was released in theaters on November 24th and we have to say we loved it! There is magic, beautiful landscapes (that actually exist) and charming characters, all in a very Disney atmosphere.
This is the first Disney movie set in Colombia and we were touched by the fact that the country is shown in a different light than the negative clichés we are, unfortunately, so used to.
The producers Byron Howard and Jared Bush, took a two weeks trip to the country where they focused on the most authentic aspects of Colombian culture.
However, if you have not yet been to Colombia, there are many small details that you may have missed in order to fully appreciate the movie.
9 details to better understand Encanto by Disney
Colombia is the 2nd country in the world in terms of biodiversity. In the film, it is possible to see an exuberant nature that reminds the Amazon jungle. Also, the Madrigal house is surrounded by mountains (the Andes), wax palms and coffee plantations, which immediately remind us of the coffee region and the Cocora Valley. Disney’s Encanto is also very colorful, especially with a beautiful diversity of flowers as well as with little Antonio, who is always accompanied by animals found in Colombia such as the jaguar, toucans, capybara, tapirs, etc. Also, towards the end of the film, we see Caño Cristales, the river of 5 colors!
2. The history of violence and forced displacement
Grandmother Madrigal is forced to leave her village because of violence. Her husband, Grandpa Madrigal, died at the hands of bandits. Since 1985, millions of Colombians have been forced to leave their homes to settle elsewhere because of the internal war that has lasted more than 50 years. Colombia is, unfortunately, the country with the most internally displaced people in the world.
3. The importance of big families
The family is a central subject in the Disney film Encanto. In Colombia, family is not limited to parents and children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are very present in Colombian families. Family members are present in important events, but also in less formal occasions. The place of the grandmother is also very important.
4. The different skin color
Contrary to popular belief, Colombia is a mixture of colors, also in terms of skin color. Colombia is geographically the first country in South America. During the Spanish colony, Colombia was an almost obligatory passage for Europeans and their slaves from Africa to the south of the continent. The members of the Madrigal family are the result of this melting pot: Luisa is tall and white; Pepa is redheaded, Antonio is Afro descendant; Mirabel is mixed race!
5. The culture
Colombians are slightly superstitious people. We see Bruno, the ostracized son of the Madrigal family, throwing salt over his shoulder for good luck. Also, he touches wood to prevent bad things from happening. Colombians also have a tendency not to point with their fingers but with their mouths! Mirabel does this gesture when indicating to his cousin Antonio where to find a wanted object. Finally, Colombians are quite gentle in their way of speaking and even strangers may call you “my love” (mi amor), “my life” (mi vida) and “my heart” (mi corazón). The Madrigal family uses these expressions of tenderness many times.
The “arepas”, the corn cake, is key in colombian cuisine. We find it everywhere in the country and in different forms: fried, stuffed, grilled, sweet, salty, large, small, etc. Mirabel’s mother cooks twice in the film, an arepa with hot cheese. At Isabel’s engagement dinner, the meal is ajiaco, the typical Bogotá dish. It is a soup made from 3 types of potatoes, with chicken, avocado, rice, corn and capers. We also see “buñuelos” which are sold by street vendors in the main square of the village.
7. Typical clothing
The colorful clothes of Mirabel, the protagonist of the film, are inspired by several places in Colombia: her sweater is inspired by the folkloric clothes of Velez, a village in the region of Santander. Her hand-made handbag is typical of the indigenous Wayúu community, from the Guajira in the north of the country. It is also possible to see the “sombrero voltiao”, the characteristic hat of Colombia. The white shirts “guayaberas” originating from the Caribbean. Finally, all the characters wear espadrilles, traditional shoes for Colombians.
8. The music
Music is omnipresent in Encanto, as it is in Colombia. We hear the accordion, an indispensable musical instrument for the “vallenato”, an authentic Colombian musical genre, just like the “cumbia”. The central song of the film “Colombia mi encanto” is performed by Carlos Vives, an iconic figure in Colombia. It is a mixture of vallenato and champeta, two Colombian Caribbean rhythms. It is also possible to hear salsa from Fruko and Joe Arroyo, two artists from Cali.
9. The architecture
The Madrigal house is inspired by the Hacienda Bambusa, the coffee farm where the two producers stayed. It is the typical architecture of the coffee farms of the coffee region. The flowered tower of the Madrigal house is a clear reminder of the colonial houses of Cartagena with the colorful flowers that fall from the balconies to the ground. The main door of the house, in green, is the same one found in Barichara, a village stopped in time and the favorite of travelers.
This village can also be seen in the film where you can recognize its cobblestone streets and its colorful doors and windows.
There are other details such as Luisa’s character inspired by Maria Isabel Urrutia, Colombian Olympic weightlifting champion. The character of Antonio was inspired by the international soccer player Cuadrado.
We must admit that in only 2 weeks, the producers were able to absorb a good part of the Colombian culture. The film was able to convey the joy of living of Colombians and above all, our desire to show the wonders of the country.
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