Five Things To Know Before Watching Coco
Posted on 06/13/2018
As a part of our Free Summer Movie series, State Theatre New Jersey presents Pixar’s® box-office hit Coco. Join us in this heartfelt 2017 animated fantasy at our 10:30am and 7pm showings on Tuesday, July 10.
Pixar® has once again managed to captivate the hearts and minds of its viewers with another riveting, emotional tale of the attainment of self. We follow our 12-year old hero Miguel of Santa Cecilia, Mexico through his journey into the “land of the dead” where he discovers himself as he travels through his ancestry in search of his great great grandfather who is a world-famous musician. While considering that an almost 11% of the American population is represented by people of Mexican descent, the creators of Coco included a team of cultural advisers in researching and implementing the often misunderstood themes of Dia de los Muertos into its story line. What’s most compelling about this story is the ways in which the events unfolding encompass universal themes in every child and adult’s life; the pursuit of one’s own dreams in the face of preserving family and culture.
Miguel’s passion for music exemplifies what the State Theatre aims to do which is to inspire people of all ages to enrich themselves through the arts. In the most entertaining and touching of ways, we are exposed to facets of Mexican culture and its arts which are so beautifully composed throughout the film. We are travelling to another world entirely in addition to that of Pixar®’s in spotting “easter eggs” woven in from other films such as the appearance of the the “Pizza Planet” truck from Toy Story and “Nemo” of Finding Nemo (hint: he’s hanging out with the alebrijes).
In honor of the rich traditions presented in the film, here are some images in Mexican culture to look out for as you’re watching:
- Frida Kahlo, a Mexican woman artist whose representation appears multiple times throughout the film is revered as one of the world’s most influential and beautiful minds. In Coco, her alebrije, or spirit animal is a monkey just like the one she kept as a pet in real life. Her pet monkey also appeared in a number of her surrealist paintings. Read more here.
- The plot of Coco alludes to an important work in Mexican literature; that of Juan Rulfo’s novel Pedro Páramo, a story about a man who returns to his hometown to find it is populated by actual ghosts. Read more here.
- The alebrijes which are featured as the skeletons’ spirit guides are based on the concept of actual alebrijes which are brightly-colored sculptures of fantastical creatures whose characters originate amongst Mexican folk traditions. Read more here.
- Miguel’s comical animal companion Dante is a Xoloitzcuintlis which is a Mexican breed of hairless dogs who were traditionally buried with their owners in order to guide them through the spirit world much like Dante did with Miguel! Read more here.
- The title of the movie refers to Coco, who is Miguel’s character’s great grandmother. The creators chose her name to be the title because they wanted to honor the family’s matrilineal lineage. Although Coco’s presence is subtle, her character is highly central to the plot. Read more here.
Now that you’ve learned about the lore behind the magic, be sure to catch Coco here at The State on July 10 at 10:30am and 7pm to see what other treasures you can uncover throughout the film!
State Theatre New Jersey's Community Access Initiative is sponsored by The Provident Bank Foundation.
By Rand Jitan