It’s irrelevant to speak about the animation quality of Pixar. We know every Pixar film is meticulously animated and they have over the years bordered on turning the animated visuals so life like that we mistake them for the real things. Pixar is also known for its varied color palate. Finding Nemo was one film that I wanted to sit in the first row off and wanted the visuals to wash over me. Hence I went into Coco expecting those things but what surprised me was the story that it had to tell.
Unraveling around the “Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)” celebration in Mexico, Coco tells the story of Miguel a kid who is fascinated by music and idolizes Ernesto De La Cruz, a long-dead singer, and performer of the highest repute. But music is considered a sin in his family. He is eager to make a mark as a singer but his whole family is against him. “On the Day of the Dead”, after a serious altercation with his family, Miguel steals Ernesto’s guitar from his shrine which magically transports him to the world of the dead. Once there he learns the real reason behind his family’s hatred for music and also meets a spirit called Hector who would change his life forever.
Using the ethos of the “Day of the Dead” as a backdrop Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina weave their story effectively rooting it in the beliefs and myths surrounding the celebration. I had heard of the “Day of the Dead” celebration before but never really tied to understand its significance. Coco Beautifully narrates the whole mythology associated with the day and it does so using a story that is so warm and affecting that it is bound to make you emotional. As the film concluded, I could hear many around me sobbing and clearing their noses and even though I didn’t cry myself, I could easily relate to them as I was very nearly in tears.
The tears were as much of happiness as they were of a hint of sadness. Death to us has always been final and hence to see a story that speaks of a life after death that too giving you a day to be in the world of the living, even if it is just to touch and feel your loved ones, was a heartwarming experience in itself. The idea of having a life in another world only if you are remembered in the mortal world struck a chord with me. Kudos have to be given to the writers and directors of the film for using this element of the celebration as a time stamp and as the primary source of tension and drama in the film which by the way works wonderfully.
I loved the way the film ended. Death never felt so peaceful before. Even though I have no plans of dying anytime sooner, I wish when I die, the other world be like what I saw in Coco. Not only is the world full of animated characters as they ought to be, it is full of magic and humility and is not even devoid of the basic limitations of humanity as it must be. The inclusion of the soul creatures and their association to the mortal world was done beautifully and really made me think whether it could be a real connection?
All the major voice talents in the film namely Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Alanna Ubach do exceedingly well. For the animation to work, the urgency in the tone and the feel of the moments have to be reflected tonally in the voice acting of the characters and that is achieved to perfection by the actors involved. The music of the film is top notch. The music here is an important element and it had to be good to strike a chord with the audiences. Michael Giacchino has a long list of terrific scores to his credit and here he is able to successfully comprehend the mood and feel of the narrative and create scores that appeal to the heart. It was absolutely crucial to the success of the overall feel of the narrative.
Coco is an experience that shouldn’t be missed for any reason. Do not mistake it for a children-only fare. The thematic elements that it contains will need a thinking mind to comprehend and absorb fully and hence, it is a film that will appeal more to the grown-ups than the children. I loved it for its story. I loved it for its visuals and music and above all, I loved it for the thought that it wants to send across. Our loved ones live through our memories. They exist in our memories and our memories make them be even after they are long gone.
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)