Encanto – A Movie About Generational Trauma (a Review)


The Madrigal Family (Taken from Disney+)

Finding something for adults and kids to enjoy during a movie night is a time consuming task. Encanto was released on Disney+ on Christmas Eve and since then TikTok and other social media platforms have been buzzing with fan theories and music clips from the movie.

Encanto is set in Columbia about the Madrigal family. Abuela Alma escaped tragic events in her town. She found the gift of the family that gave her and her children Casita, a magical smarthome system. Each member of the family has a gift or superpower given to them by the magical candle. You guessed it, the guard of this candle is Abuela.
15 old Maribel was not given a candle when her time came to receive one. Abuela (who places an immense pressure on everyone to be perfect) was disapproving and disappointed by Maribel’s lack of a gift.

Maribel Madrigal (Taken from Disney+)

The movie picks up when the youngest of the family, Antonio, is about to receive his gift. There was stress in the air because last time the coming of age ceremony was held it was not successful. After the successful coming of age ceremony, Maribel sees cracks in Casita’s walls. That sets her on a journey to find out why the house is breaking down.

The discussion of generational trauma presented on screen was prevalent. The Family Madrigal put on a front of the perfect family contrary to the breaking walls of Casita. Abuela wants everyone to be perfect but that causes roles to be assigned and lots of surface pressure (no pun intended) on the children and grandchildren.

Out of Abuela’s children, Julieta (mother of Maribel) is the golden child. She can heal anyone by cooking! Peppa is not assigned a role but she is told to suppress her emotions which controls the weather – that puts tons of growing pressure on Peppa. Bruno Madrigal is the scapegoat, his power is telling prophecies and when people don’t like them (like Abuela) they’ll blame him. That causes him to disappear and the family no longer talks about Bruno.

Like Abuela’s children, Julieta’s children (the grandchildren) are assigned a role as well. Isabella is the perfect child, she makes flowers bloom all around her and is destined to marry a perfect man. Luisa is the strong one; she must protect her family and serve the village. That puts lots of pressure on her which is explored in her song Surface Pressure. Last but certainly not least, Maribel is the scapegoat, she is the muggle of the family with no powers. That causes a struggle between Isabella and Maribel throughout the movie.

Encanto (Taken from Disney+)

Apart from the themes the movie was trying to explore, everyone of all ages could enjoy the soundtrack of Encanto – not that Disney has disappointed before. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda (who could use a break) the soundtrack has been stuck in the minds of many. Miranda is known for his songwriting in Hamilton, Moana, and Vivo. They’re catchy and all over TikTok. Everyone is talking about Bruno contrary to the song We Don’t Talk About Bruno. The song has smashed many song records by Disney including Let It Go from Frozen. We Don’t Talk About Bruno has officially reached No. 4 on the Billboards Hot 100 in the US.

Those parallels with the walls of Casita breaking speaks of breaking generational trauma and curses. The audience isn’t sure if Alma’s husband was killed due to colonization but they can only infer the bigger themes the movie is trying to explore.