Make way for more Latine representation! Disney has released a beautiful new poster and toe-tapping musical trailer for their 60th animated film, Encanto, with music from Lin-Manuel Miranda. Encanto follows the Madrigals, a family living in a magical house in the mountains of Colombia where each child receives an “Encanto”, or a gift that gives them magical powers. The trailer shows Madrigal children who have super strength, shapeshifting abilities, plant-growing powers, and an affinity for animals. But one child has no gift -- 15-year old Mirabel struggles to find a place in her family as the only one who’s “not special.” However, when she discovers that something is threatening the magic of the Encanto, she decides she may be the only one who can save it.
Mirabel is clearly known as the black sheep of her family. At one point, someone hands her a basket of trinkets and even says, “I gave you the special since you’re the only Madrigal kid with no gift. I call it the ‘Not Special Special,’ since, uh, you have no gift!” Yet Mirabel later says, “Gift or no gift, I’m just as special as the rest of my family.”
In a statement following the trailer’s release, Stephanie Beatriz, who voices Mirabel, said "Mirabel is a really funny, loving character who also deeply yearns for something more. She's also not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right — something I love and relate to very much. I'm Colombian on my father's side, and playing this role fills me with immense pride."
I can’t help but be excited to see that most of the Encanto cast descends from Colombia, a decision affirming that all Latines are not interchangeable, as popular media frequently depicts us. The cast includes:
Hot on the heels of criticism about the lack of diversity in In the Heights, Encanto has already made a great impression by featuring numerous Afro-Latinos. Twitter users have been buzzing about the casual diversity in every shot, where there are a mix of light-skinned and dark-skinned Colombians dancing and conversing together. One of the featured Madrigal children is a young dark-skinned Afro-Latino boy who reminded me a bit of Diego from Dora the Explorer.
Not only is there racial diversity, there’s body diversity, too! The Madrigals and their neighbors come in all shapes and sizes. The first Madrigal family member shown is a super buff lady named Luisa that the Internet is already crushing on. She’s super strong and has lots of muscles to show it, an animation decision that was apparently extremely difficult to get the go-ahead on. Thank goodness animator Dylan Ekren got it to happen.
The song in the trailer that had me grooving from the first beat is entitled “Colombia, Mi Encanto", written by 17-time Grammy winner Carlos Vives, a native of Colombia. He said in a statement, “This song is a celebration of the magical diversity of Colombia... I can’t wait to see how the music will blend with the images and the characters inspired by the encanto of Colombians.”
Although I’m not Colombian, this trailer for Encanto has me really excited. I thought it would be a one and done situation with Coco since Disney tends to make a single movie for generalized ethnic groups for diversity points. However, movies like Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto prove they are willing to explore specific countries and groups under racial labels (even if they make mistakes along the way). It gives me a little hope. And I know a many Latines feel the same about this representation. Hopefully Disney follows through on this good first impression and makes a film that is accurate to Colombia and portrays Latines in a positive and authentic way.
Encanto comes to theaters on November 24, 2021. You can watch the trailer below.