Coco’s Secret: Don’t Forget …
A riot of colors, Mexican flavor, light humor, incendiary music and a story that touches the depths of the soul. This is what the new creation of the Pixar people – “Coco”, is remembered for. Cartoon belongs to those rare works of animation art that are suitable for all ages. It is noteworthy that the extremely vivid form of the plot presentation did not spoil the deep meaning put into it by the creators. The plot of “Coco” is interesting with unpredictable twists and turns. Therefore, it is better to take on faith that this wonderful little thing is really worthy of attention, and watch the cartoon before reading the review. Otherwise, you risk losing some “zest”, without which the “taste” will be completely spoiled.
Parallel worlds intersect
Twelve-year-old Miguel had a passionate desire to become a great guitarist like the famous Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to meet understanding from the family, in which the strictest ban on music has been imposed due to a long tragic history, the boy sneaks into the museum of a long-dead idol and tries to steal his instrument. But it was on the eve of the Day of the Dead, and the teenager finds himself in the other world. It becomes clear that the spheres of existence of the living and the dead have points of contact: between them there is a ghostly bridge, across which once a year you can walk in both directions. Miguel will have to go through incredible adventures until he returns home.
Isn’t it an uncomplicated story? But the scriptwriters intertwined several lines of different genres here at once. Fans of melodramas will see a sentimental saga of love that defies time and other obstacles. Connoisseurs of detective stories will enjoy the plot, trying to unravel the mystery of a long-standing crime. Fans of drama will follow the fate of the boy with ever-increasing excitement, trying to guess how the furious protest against family traditions will end. And, finally, lovers of mysticism and horror films will also get a share of “tasty treats”, because the Pixar people again continue to disclose the theme of death to children. But what about without various nightmares? True, here they are cute, funny and extremely charming. Not as dark as Laiki’s Kubo or Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride!
Let’s flirt with death
Mexico has a very specific attitude towards death. If most of the peoples of the world treat the bony one with awe and fear, the locals prefer to flirt with her and even tease her. No Halloween beats the UNESCO-listed Latin American Day of the Dead! It was this holiday that became the background on which the plot of the cartoon unfolds. The animation team specially traveled to Mexico to fully immerse themselves in the psychedelic atmosphere of the carnival processions. As the indigenous people note, the people of Pixar in their work treated the rituals they saw with great care. As a result, viewers get a visual representation of the oldest Latin American tradition – Dia de Los Muertos, which has existed since the time of the Mayans and Aztecs.
In the cartoon, we see the main signs of a mystical holiday – the atmosphere of general fun and anticipation of meeting the spirits of loved ones, a lot of orange marigolds. A bridge between the worlds is created from delicate flower petals. The same petal serves to bless Miguel, without which he could not return from the afterlife.
They also showed us the festive altars: they are installed with great reverence in the boy’s family. Here they post photos of the deceased, lay out the loaves of the dead, their favorite treats and things. Snapshots play an extremely important role as a gateway to the world of the living. Those whose photograph has not been placed on the altar cannot cross the bridge. Yes, everywhere unkillable bureaucracy reigns! In general, the local society is similar to the earthly – noise, din, social stratification.
Many are surprised at the animal guides between the worlds present in the cartoon: the animals are very colorful, just amazing! In fact, there is nothing surprising about them. The guides here personify the alebrihe – painted mascot toys that protect the owners from fear. These trinkets supposedly lead the souls of people across the bridge of petals.
By the way, it is noteworthy that Miguel’s guide is an amusing dog, the breed of which is Xolo. Such dogs once represented the god of fire named Xolotl. So, looking at the screen, where Dante makes different pretzels and tries to cope with his long tongue, treat with respect to what you see. Scientists believe that this breed first appeared 3500 years ago!
The cartoonists very accurately conveyed the attitude of the Mexicans towards death. Even the little ones are not afraid of her here, because she seems to them as a matter of course. The meeting with the spirits of the departed is revered there as the brightest holiday, where fun and joy reigns from the long-awaited meeting with relatives and friends who have gone to another world.
Meaning on a silver platter
The moral of the cartoon does not need to be solved. In the luminous whirling of orange petals, simple, eternal truths loom. There is hardly a double bottom here, because the animators, as they say, chewed everything up and put it in their mouths. It remains only to swallow. Let’s get down to it now.
Seizing a moment of luck or writing your own story?
Miguel is obsessed with the idea of being like an idol – the guitarist of the last century Ernesto de la Cruz, whom he mistaken for his great-great-grandfather. The boy often watches films with him. The guitarist’s motto “Seize the moment of luck” becomes a guide to action for a teenager. Offended by his family, forcing him to become a shoemaker, and not a musician, the rebel decides to break the prohibitions. By all means, you must catch the bird of luck by the tail, and come what may!
But then there was a meeting in the land of the Unforgotten, where the young hero met both the brilliant Ernesto and the eccentric Hector. A series of events led the teenager to complete disappointment in the idol. As a result, the kid realized that the usual motto is not so good. At any cost, achieving what you want, you can easily make mistakes and turn on the wrong path. It is much better not to imitate, but to write your own story, remaining true to yourself and the moral principles instilled in the family. Let it be much more difficult, but the only true path in life.
Believe in your love
All the twists and turns began with the fact that Miguel’s great-great-grandfather left his wife and daughter Coco for the sake of a vocation – music. Leaving, he promised to return, but never appeared on the threshold of his home again. In response, Imelda deleted music from life, although she loved to sing. Without waiting for her husband, she mastered the profession of a shoemaker and made it a family business. At the same time, baby Koko had a secret, which is mentioned in the title of the cartoon: the offended mother tore off a piece in the photo with the face of her lover, but her daughter hid a tiny fragment, saving it forever.
Only many decades later, with the help of Miguel, the reason for the “meanness” of Coco’s dad was found out. Ernesto and Hector were friends and performed together. But the first wanted glory with every fiber of his soul, and the second wanted to give joy to people with his songs. Realizing that family is more important than popularity, Hector decided to return home, but de la Cruz intervened, and the reunion of loving souls took place only after death. And the meaning of this storyline is that you should not rush to lose faith in your loved ones. Then the heart will not be poisoned by the thought of betrayal, as happened with Imelda and her descendants.
Be ready to sacrifice yourself
In the world of the dead, Miguel has repeatedly faced moral choices. Return to your family or continue to bathe in Ernesto’s glory? To be saved, leaving Hector to gradually disappear (the image of the father is erased from the memory of old Coco), or, risking yourself, to save the great-great-grandfather for all Rivera? Break the family taboo and become a guitarist or master the craft of a shoemaker so that peace reigns in the family?
The cartoon unobtrusively shows the children that close people should learn to understand each other. There is always a compromise between your own desires and the desires of your relatives, you just need to want to hear each other and see a way out of a difficult situation. But in order to come to such an understanding, sometimes you have to sacrifice something. But it’s worth it!
Don’t forget, remember me
Now about the main thing that sounds in “The Secret of Coco”. The Day of the Dead Festival exists for the sake of memory. Those who are forgotten disappear into nowhere, turn into nothing. The deceased leaves for the Land of the Forgotten, leaving no trace on Earth. We see that thanks to a little secret of Coco, who saved the photo of his father, Hector remained to live in the memory of his family. And the same happens not with cartoon characters, but with real people. It doesn’t matter if there is an afterlife, the main thing is that a person does not disappear without a trace.
This truth is taught to children by Pixar studio in an accessible form, with very delicate humor. Talking about the dead here does not frighten, but makes you feel warmth in your soul, light sadness for the departed, joy that we do not forget them. So, they are somewhere nearby. And it will always be so, as long as we remember! It seems that the lullaby “Remember Me”, which Hector composed for baby Coco, will receive more than one award, probably even an Oscar. A beautiful and soulful song evokes a storm of emotions, up to the appearance of tears in the eyes of the audience.
“Coco’s Secret” – a remake of “The Book of Life”?
For all its splendor, the cartoon makes you feel some déjà vu. Perhaps the sense of recognition comes from the fact that the Mexican Day of the Dead is already featured in The Book of Life (2014). Considering the originality of the holiday, it is no wonder that many of the nuances will be similar – both in atmosphere and in musical component. But thoughts about a remake do not leave, because in both cartoons:
- the main character is a boy with a guitar who wants to sing and play for people with all his heart;
- the teenager’s family categorically insists on following family traditions (in “Secret” you have to become a shoemaker, and in “Book” you need to fight bulls);
- the hero is faced with a choice – to follow someone else’s example or go his own way;
- the truth is affirmed: the strength of a person is in the unity of the family.
Pixar animation clearly wins in terms of the visual range, but is inferior in terms of the logic of what is happening. Why was Miguel suddenly brought into the world of the dead? How does everything work on the other side of life? Who is running this eccentric edge? But in the cartoon by Jorge Gutierrez there are no such punctures. The plot develops without sudden transitions, smoothly and naturally.
Do you want to understand for yourself if “The Secret of Coco” is plagiarism? Be sure to check out The Book of Life. Probably, at first, the technique of depicting characters will be unusual, but then the action drags on so that you no longer pay attention to such a trifle. But here you can finally understand how the world of the dead works according to the ideas of the Mexicans, and get acquainted with the main organizers of the holiday – Katrina and Xibalba, the rulers of the Unforgotten and Forgotten countries.