On November 25th, 2021, Walt Disney Animation Studios released its 60th film, Encanto. The story—including an original soundtrack composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself—follows Mirabel Madrigal, a teenage girl who lives with her large family in a magical place in Colombia called the “Encanto”. During a time of intense suffering, Mirabel’s grandmother was blessed by a candle that gave her a beautiful house (the Madrigal family’s casita) and a magical gift for each of her children. In the following years, every child in every generation of the Madrigal family received their own unique gift through a town-wide ceremony. To this day, the tight-knit members of the family use their incredible gifts to help others in the town, but Mirabel does not, because she is the only member of the Madrigal family who did not receive a gift, and nobody knows why.
On the day of her little cousin’s gift-receiving ceremony, Mirabel notices their casita—which is usually perfectly intact, bright, and even alive—beginning to crack. She desperately calls her abuela to come take a look, but is shocked to discover that the cracks have disappeared upon abuela’s arrival. Thinking Mirabel lied to interrupt the ceremony, abuela angrily storms away, leaving Mirabel saddened yet sure of what she saw. Not long after, Mirabel learns that her family’s gifts are beginning to fade. In search of answers, she begins her journey to reconnect with her tío Bruno, who disappeared a long time ago and has not been mentioned in the family since. In a scene skillfully animated with darkness and sand everywhere to convey its mysterious tone, she discovers that he—whose gift was seeing the future—had a vision where Mirabel stood in front of their casita as it cracked. Heartbroken that she may be the reason her home is crumbling and the magic in her family is disappearing, Mirabel continues her search for Bruno. Along the way, she undertakes dangerous missions and confronts people in ways she never thought she would have to; these interactions allow her to better understand each of her family members and grow closer to saving the magic.
It was also fantastic to see the studio continuing to release diverse movies encompassing different cultures and groups of people around the world. If you’re looking for a movie that will evoke true emotion, Encanto is the one.