Arts & Entertainment

New Disney animated film ‘Encanto’ brings magic of Colombia to big screen

By Alex Segura Lozano

Los Angeles, Nov 23 (EFE).- “Encanto,” a new Disney animated musical fantasy film set in Colombia and inspired by the magical realism of late Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, will bring all the charm and cultural and natural richness of that Andean nation to US moviegoers starting Wednesday.

The country’s biodiversity, music and variety of ethnic groups made it the ideal setting for the story of the Madrigal family, each of whom, except Mirabel, possess unique abilities such as tremendous strength or healing powers.

“I think there’s something about that storytelling tradition (associated with Garcia Marquez and his masterpiece, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”) that felt so organic to Latin America and felt like the perfect fit for a Disney movie where magic is present,” Byron Howard, one of three co-directors, said in an interview with Efe.

“But it’s not European magic. It’s magic tied to emotion and grounded in real-life experience. So this movie was destined to be set in Colombia.”

The action is centered on La Casita, a magical house that is located in an enchanted town nestled in the mountains of Colombia and evokes the traditional homes of the colonial towns and cities of Barichara, Cartagena and Salenta.

The soundtrack is also a key element of the film, which serves as a showcase for what another of the movie’s co-directors, Jared Bush, told Efe is the “best music in the world.”

The songs, several of them sung by Stephanie Beatriz (the voice actor for the film’s protagonist, Mirabel Madrigal) during moments of joy, sadness or fear, run the gamut of Colombian musical genres, from vallenato to cumbia, mapale, joropo and bambuco.

“It’s like a dream come true, honestly, to be able to soak up as much of this music as possible. And it’s the best music I’ve ever heard,” Bush, who is a musician himself, told Efe.

All of the movie’s eight original songs were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton,” including three performed by Colombian singer-songwriters Carlos Vives and Sebastian Yatra, while the scores were composed by Germaine Franco.

Although the movie is primarily voiced in English, Howard, Bush and the film’s other co-director, Charise Castro-Smith, strove to ensure an ample presence of Spanish, both in the songs and some of the dialogues.

Consideration even was given to making an entirely Spanish-speaking film, although eventually that possibility was ruled out.

“We thought a lot about the choices we were making, with characters having accents, not having accents … we ultimately landed on having characters speaking English with Colombian accents,” Castro-Smith, a Cuban-American, told Efe.

The close attention to detail also is seen in the food, with Mirabel carrying panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), cassavas and bags of coffee in a basket known as a maceta. EFE


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