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Lin-Manuel Miranda had four movies open in 2021. In the Heights was based on his stage musical, while Tick Tick… Boom! featured Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical songs. Vivo and Encanto had original music by the Hamilton creator.
Encanto, which reunited Miranda with Disney after Moana, tells the story of Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), an outcast in a Colombian family where everyone has a unique gift, except for Mirabel. Mirabel’s sister, Luisa (Jessica Darrow), has super strength, and her other sister, Isabel (Dianne Guerrero), can bring vegetation to life. Her cousin, Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers), can talk to animals. Yet, when the magic starts to dwindle, Mirabel still steps up to save the magic, of which she was not a beneficiary.
Producer Clark Spencer said the inspiration for Encanto was her grandparents. Her grandfather died fleeing their home, but her grandmother got her triplets to safety, guided by a candlelight she believed her husband’s spirit kept alight. Mirabel’s grandmother, Alma (Maria Cecilia Botero), has the same story. Only in the movie, the candle creates the magical house, the Casita, and gives every child in the family a special gift at age 5.
The magic of Encanto is also based on real-world elements. The Madrigals aren’t wizards conjuring up creatures. Co-directors Byron Howard, Jared Bush and Charise Castro Smith chose powers that related to the characters’ emotions and personality, like the strong rock of the family or the social flower who blooms.
Miranda said the film’s family themes inspired the music. Also, setting the film in Colombia suggested specific Latin musical influences. The filmmakers said they chose Colombia for its intersection of indigenous, African and European cultures, and took a trip with Miranda in 2018 for inspiration and research. Miranda also said that working on Moana, on which Bush also wrote, empowered him to suggest more songs for Encanto.
When the Casita begins to crack, Mirabel goes looking for the cause and discovers her long lost uncle, Bruno (John Leguizamo). Bruno was shunned for having visions of the future, but reconnecting, they discover the family magic may have caused more problems for family members. But, there’s still time to fix it.
Disney released Encanto over Thanksgiving, making it only the second animated wide release to have an exclusive theatrical window in 2021. It has made $216.3 million at the global box office to date and has already won Best Animated Feature from the Golden Globes and the National Board of Review. It also has nine Annie nominations.
Click below to read the script from Smith and Bush.
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