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Analysis of Pixar's Coco

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1320 words Published: 11th May 2021

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A Beautiful Dream

 Would you cross a bridge that unknowingly leads to the Land of the Dead? Would you immediately  go back to the Land of the Living? Would you try and meet your own idol? If all the answers are yes, then you need to see Coco. All these questions are what our character faces in this beautiful animated film. Miguel unexpectedly travels to a different realm and tries to return to the land of the living to accomplish his dream of being an aspiring musician, which is exactly what he intends to do. Coco is a remarkable heartwarming film about family, passion and an exploration of culture. It is a must-watch for its wonderful plot and approach into family dynamics, its portrayal of growth through narrative and its beautiful animation and cinematography.

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Released in 2017, the film Coco is an animated adventure family film. Directed and Written by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina and Co-written by Matthew Aldrich and Jason Katz. The protagonists of the film are Miguel Rivera, Hector and Ernesto Dela Cruz. The overall plot of the Coco is about a 12 year-old Miguel Rivera who yearns to be a musician, however music is forbidden by their family for generations caused by the disappearance of their great great grandfather. As the movie unravels we begin to discover the truth behind the family’s predicament with music and how Miguel plans to change his fate (Coco).

The importance of family is explicitly seen throughout the movie Coco. According to Matt Seitz, a known film reviewer, states that “One of the most fascinating things about the movie is the way it builds its plot around members of the Rivera family, living and dead, as they battle to determine the official narrative of Miguel’s great-great grandfather and what his disappearance meant for the extended clan.” thus emphasizing connectivity of the Rivera family within the film. The disappearance of their great-great grandfather made the family dislike music and as a result forbid music altogether, and thus portraying music as an unreliable way of life and a distraction to what matters most: family (Coco). The film’s usage of plot among characters is greatly used by manifesting the closeness of the Rivera family by growing into being reputable shoemakers, which helps them stick together as a family, by means of supporting one another, by teaching everyone their own way of living (Coco). Additionally, we see them working together to get Miguel back to the living to save Hector; Fortunately, he went back in time to sing a song for his great grandmother Coco, which leaves the viewers a heartwarming moment for the whole family (Coco). From the living till the dead; Family sticks together no matter what proving that blood is truly thicker than water. The familial bond between characters is what gravitates the audience towards the film. As Miguel navigates his family’s predicament with music in the beginning; they improve their relationship by accepting Miguel’s willingness to change their history. The movie’s incredible approach on family dynamics is what attracts the film to the general public but the plot is what draws audiences to watch the film that shows values for children and adults alike.

Each film has shortcomings with writing narrative however Coco delivers its narrative flawlessly by focusing on the 12 year old Miguel Rivera as he goes on an adventure achieving his dream to be a musician. Ever since the family has prohibited any form of music; caused by the mysterious disappearance of their great great grandfather, it did not stop Miguel from learning music by secretly watching movies of his idol Ernesto Dela Cruz. Miguel learned to sing and play guitar, thus igniting his passion for music. As the story progresses we see Miguel’s perseverance in being a musician which leads him to finding his great great grandfather. For instance, he goes against his family’s conditions and pursues to return through his own terms. Miguel joins a contest and sings in front of a crowd for the first time and hides in the band’s trombone to sneak past the guard, to reach Ernesto Dela Cruz (Coco). Upon discovering the truth about his idol and family, Miguel realizes the importance of family and what he must do to resolve their family’s history (Coco). The film’s storytelling also shows clever progression as it transitions from musical scores and meaningful dialogue between characters. For example, when Miguel runs away to evade his family, a song erupts from his great great grandmother that reveals her love for music which sparked a significant conversation as to what mattered between the characters’ lives. A small scene that perfectly blends music and dialogue. It is also shown when Hector sings a rather adult song to his dear friend, he acknowledges the children present and adapts the lyrics to be appropriate (Coco). Additionally, the moment Miguel and Hector shared the stage they provided a smooth transition between dialogue and the song that moves flawlessly together (Coco). The film’s narrative and storytelling accommodates the musical scores that heightens the movie’s creativeness that keeps it simple and catchy that leaves viewers singing the songs even long after they leave their seats.

Most animated films create the world their characters would reside in and oftentimes it may present itself to be difficult for animators yet Coco showcased the incredible culture of latin america through each aspect of the film. Especially by using its beautiful animation and vibrant colors, the film’s cinematography highlights each part of the latin culture. From its architecture and environment down to the small petals on the bridge; Upon arriving at the Land of the Dead we see the shot of the city with towering buildings as far as the eye can see and spirited alebrijes flying everywhere (Coco). The film’s magnificent animation is accentuated with each detail animators provide, from the straw hat Hector wears, we can see each line of the straws, each shape on the alebrijes skins and most importantly how distinct and individual each character's skull painting is made (Coco) which makes the audience in awe of the new world they are introduced into. Furthermore as the movie advances small details that are highlighted, particularly when Miguel stumbles upon an artist’s studio, we can see the depth of the background even through the darkness and the reflection of the city in the window pane as Miguel looks outward (Coco). As with most animated films it has been a long way since the days of two dimensional films such as Pinochio or Dumbo, Coco exhibits the developments of the animation industry from color to sound, its vibrant colors and warm hues engages the viewers throughout the film which makes it incredibly easy to follow and aids the audience’s attention solely through the story.

 While Coco may be perceived as a film for children it should never be overlooked by anyone looking for an interesting movie. Altogether, the film is a classic carried out carefully making it exceptional and needs to be watched at least once. The well-thought out screenplay, intricate details in animation and wonderful cinematography certainly makes it a movie for everyone to see.

Works Cited

Coco. Directed by Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich, Pixar Studios, 2017.            Soap2day, www.soap2day.biz/2529-coco.html. Accessed 22 June 2020.

Seitz, Matt Zoller. “Coco Movie Review & Film Summary (2017)”: Roger Ebert,

21 Nov. 2017, www.rogerebert.com/reviews/coco-2017. Accessed 22 June 2020.


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