If you’ve had a chance to read my books, then it will be no secret that I love stories that have a message, or what I call, “little nuggets” for a reader to find. When I come across books (or movies) like that, I will cherish them forever.
It’s also no secret I love Disney movies. Most of them. One came out late last year that has a lot of people talking. The music is lively and you can’t help but at least do a shoulder dance, if not shaking your thing across the living room or while you’re cooking in the kitchen.
The Magic of Encanto
First off, this is one of the most beautiful movies that Disney has done in some time. The bright, vivid colors, the great cast of characters with relatable characteristics, and the lively music, as I mentioned before.
But what really grips me about this particular movie are the deep messages all through the story. First, I want to start with the characters. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, know there will be spoilers in this article. I will try to give you a head’s up before I get into anything spoily (is that a word?) Yep, today it’s a word.
Meet the Family Madrigal
Mirabel - The viewpoint character. She tries to put on a good face, but underneath the smile and trying to be helpful, is a broken heart because she wasn’t given a special gift like her siblings.
Alma Madrigal (Abuela)- she rules the household. She guards (and kind of worships) the magical candle that gives the family their gifts. She tries to control the family and what happens in Casita, (their magical home provided by the miracle) fearing that she will lose everything that matters to her again. Alma had triplets when she and her husband, Pedro, had to flee their village from conquerors. Bruno, Pepa, and Julieta are her three children.
Bruno - Nobody wants to talk about him. He has visions, but nobody likes what he sees. So, being fed up with being misunderstood, he disappears. Or does he?
Pepa- The storm maker. Pepa has to hold in her feelings to keep the storms at bay.
Julieta (Mirabel’s mother) heals with food. Of course, food and love can be healing.
Isabela- (Mirabel's sister) Perfect, pretty, makes flowers grow but isn’t happy. She becomes cold, though she tries to look as if she is all put together with her fake smiling face.
Luisa- (Mirabel’s sister) is one of my favorites. She thinks her value comes from her strength and if she can’t serve the community, she is worthless. Which isn’t true. She carries a heavy burden, and on the surface tries to keep up a brave face. Behind that strength, work, and strong façade, she is trembling, weeping, and needs a hug desperately.
Camilo- (Peppa’s son) is honest and outspoken, but hides behind his shapeshifting gift, always wanting to be someone else.
Dolores- (Peppa’s daughter) has the ability to hear a pin drop. So she hears what’s going on all around her. She suffers in silence overseeing the guy she loves being pledged to another, but does nothing about it, wanting to keep the family peace. Because, keeping everything normal, and peaceful, is what’s most important it seems.
Antonio- is the youngest family member who is about to receive his gift.
Spoiler Stuff Ahead
As we learn, Alma fell in love with a good man and they had triplets. Everything was perfect, and they were so happy. Soon after the births, their town was invaded and they had to run for their lives. As the conquerors came after the people trying to escape, Pedro turns back to face them, hoping to give his family and friends a chance to run. They kill him, but his sacrifice brings the miracle of the candle that pushes back the invaders and creates a sheltered place for them to grow and thrive. The magic builds a home, called Casita, that shelters and grows with the family, providing them and the village with everything they need.
Right here, I was sunk. Did Disney intend the story to be this way? Because the way I see it, this event alone points to the sacrifice Jesus made so that we can live in safety...or in His Kingdom. And when we use our gifts, we help to better the Kingdom. Right?
And then there are the gifts:
As the family grows and their gifts abound, they serve the town, and the land thrives. Until fear begins to take over Alma’s heart. That’s when the cracks start to appear and the family falls apart, despite their efforts to hold everything together.
Bruno loves his family so much, that he hides inside the walls of the house where he can still be near them. Everyone, except Dolores, who can hear a pin drop, believes he left because he didn’t care about the family anymore. So nobody is allowed to talk about Bruno.
Meanwhile, he tries to patch the cracks in the house.
When Mirabel, who wants to save the miracle, goes to Isabela in an attempt to make amends because Bruno’s prophesy said they needed to “embrace”. However, I think the prophecy was talking about more than just a hug, even if they don’t realize it.
Mirabel tries to make amends with her sister, but it isn’t going well. When Isa admits that she lives to keep the family happy and she hates it, something happens. Something new. Isa realizes that she has the ability to create more. Even if that more is prickly and bites. Her colors become more vibrant, breaking from red and pink roses to purples, blues, orange, and greens. She sings about wondering what else she can do.
I relate most to Isa’s transformation.
It’s easy for creatives to get stuck in trying to please people, instead of allowing their ideas to flow and expand into the unknown and risky. I love it!
When the house falls apart, all Camilo’s masks become uncontrollable, Pepa is causing rain and hail, and the whole family is in chaos until everything comes tumbling down around them.
I’m not going to tell you how they come to their moments of realization, you’ll have to watch the movie for that.
However, I love the last bit where after the house collapses, the town’s people come with their tools. They have no gifts, but they are there and want to help the family that has served them for all these years. Together, they rebuild the house with a fresh understanding that it’s not the gifts that are important. It’s not how we perform, as the Bible says, it’s not by works, but by His grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
What is truly the miracle is each and every person that makes up the community. And yes, there is a wonderful song about this, too!
Abuela realizes that she was holding onto the miracle too tight. So tight that she forgot who the miracle was really for. You see, like the Madrigal family, we also have gifts. Sometimes we struggle to move in them. Sometimes we are afraid of them and feel we aren't qualified for that gift. We fear that we aren't good enough.
But, in truth, the miracle or gifts aren't meant for us. They are meant to be used to bless others and to help build the kingdom.
The miracle is you.
Not your gift.
Now, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, go make time to watch it. If you have, watch it again! We need all the feel-good, inspirational messages we can get in this world. Don’t you think?
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.
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