Disney has been ‘Waiting on a Miracle’ and they found it with Encanto


Created by Laura Silenzio

Encanto has set itself apart from the rest as Disney takes its shot at a tale of music and heartfelt talks of generational trauma.

 Ever since Encanto was released at the end of 2021, TikTok has been buzzing non stop about all aspects of the movie. From Lin Manuel Miranda’s superior soundtrack to the heartbreaking-yet captivating story, people couldn’t get enough. 

   The origins of the Madrigal family begin after young Alma and Pedro are forced to flee their village as a result of armed conflict. Pedro sacrifices himself trying to protect his family and the rest of the village and a heartbroken Alma are left to grieve the loss while having to take care of her young triplets, but not without consolation. By some miracle, the family becomes blessed with magical gifts—except for Mirabel. 

   Growing up without a “gift,” Mirabel becomes ostracized by her family. Photos are taken without her, and she waits in the shadows as Antonio receives his gift. She feels as if she has to try and compensate for that with hard work, while many of her family members see it as her getting in their way. 

   The more Mirabel tries, the more Abuela Alma dismisses her. Abuela Alma poses herself as the pillar; always pushing everyone to do what they’re supposed to do and shunning those who dare to do something different. But as I’ve interpreted it, this comes out of fear of losing anyone else like she did her husband. Unfortunately, in her attempt to keep the family together and functional, she emotionally abuses its members.

   As we see with Abuela walking down the hall and everyone standing on guard, everyone feels like their gift determines their worth. This is what pushes Bruno away.

   Since his visions are often negative, his family sees them as “bad omens” instead of just a vision of what the future holds. They don’t understand his prophecies, and pretend there are no problems. Bruno is the one blamed whenever things go wrong, when he is just the messenger.

   The same thing happens to Mirabel when she tells everyone the magic is vanishing and the casita is falling apart. Abuela immediately shuns her in front of everyone, and even blames her for the situation. She assumes that since Mirabel doesn’t have a gift, she must be the problem. 

There’s a common theme of pressure within the family. Luisa, Isabela, and Pepa all have intense pressure on them to be perfect at what they do, and to constantly fix what’s wrong in the community. The song “Surface Pressure” touches on this topic for Luisa, with lyrics expressing “I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service” and “Who am I if I can’t carry it all?”

   While Abuela Alma doesn’t directly tell them they need to be perfect, she shames them when they’re not. In the case of her second daughter Pepa, Abuela is always trying to get her to push away her feelings and be happy, even though she can’t be happy all the time. Abuela continues this coercing behavior when she pushes Isabela to marry Mariano for the family, even though she never asks her.

   Seeing Mirabel and Bruno as the scapegoated black sheep made their meeting seem even more heartfelt, as they relate to each other. As I was in theaters watching it, I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the hilarious quips Mirabel provides to poke fun at Bruno’s eccentric behavior. I laughed hysterically at his alter ego Hernando, who’s not afraid of anything, and I cried out laughing when Mirabel let go of Bruno’s hand because she got scared from the rat that climbed up, only to find that the fall was only about five feet. 

   Bruno’s endearing personality carried the movie for me, as whenever he came on screen there was something to laugh about. Seeing him make his own dinner plate behind the wall so he can be at the family table without “harming” his family was so sad to see. This made Bruno’s confrontation with Abuela all the more anticipating. When the family welcomes him back, it was such a sweet relief.

   But the resolve didn’t come easily. After Abuela harshly scolds Mirabel, saying she’s ruining the family, Mirabel makes it clear that the person responsible for the casita being in trouble is Abuela pushing everyone too hard. This realization catches Abuela off guard, quite literally “opening her eyes” like Mirabel had begged for earlier in the song “Waiting on a Miracle.” In a dramatic destruction, the house falls into shambles and the candle’s light goes out. 

After the house falls apart, Abuela realizes her wrongdoings. We see her backstory explained more in detail with a beautiful Spanish song “Dos Oruguitas.” She explains that she was just trying to make her husband’s sacrifice seem worth it, but she lost sight of what the gift was really for. 

  Not only was the movie multifaceted in its portrayal of the pressure of family relationships, the soundtrack itself made some loud noise in the music scene. For the week of January 21-27, the Encanto soundtrack reached #1 for global albums on Spotify, and for the second time ever, a Disney animated film song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the masterpiece that is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. 

   Everything about Encanto pushed beyond expectations and is another reason why Lin Manuel Miranda should be considered one of the top artists in the industry at the moment. Bringing incredible layers to an animated movie, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a Disney fan-favorite.