Encanto is a Magical Tale of Family and Expectations, and it’s Been 5 Years in the Making


I was one of the few very privileged people who had the opportunity to watch Encanto before it hit theatres. It was just me and a security guard to make sure I wasn’t pirating the movie in the cinema, and what an experience it was.

From the very beginning, I knew I would love the movie. As a huge Disney fan, there are few movies from the studio that I don’t like, and considering Encanto was based around a Colombian family, the representation made my heart sing.

The film is based around the Madrigals, an extraordinary family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed place called the Encanto. Every member of the family has been bestowed their own unique gift, except Mirabel.

As I watched the movie, there were moments where I danced (in my seat of course), I laughed and boy, did I cry. There was something about the Madrigals that had me relating to every single member of their family. But especially Mirabel, who is just trying her best to prove herself worthy in front of her grandmother.

The hard work that went into this film is evident, and there’s no doubt that directors and writers Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith and Jared Bush really brought their phenomenal vision to life. And of course, no Disney movie is complete without magical musical numbers, and Encanto had the very best on their side with Hamilton writer LinManuel Miranda.

“We started with this idea about telling a story about an extended family because it’s something we haven’t really done at Disney. We typically focus on a small number of characters, but a lot of us, when we got together at the beginning of this film five years ago, talked about our large, extended families,” Byron Howard told POPSUGAR Australia.

“Lin included, Charise as well. That was something universal to us, and something we could all relate to. Specifically, Charise, teaming up with Jared, she brought this idea of a displaced family, and it was very important for her to represent that. Unfortunately, it’s something that a lot of people can relate to in the world, but I think that resilience that’s represented by the characters in the film is something that’s very important to us.”

Every family is somewhat dysfunctional, and if you claim yours is perfect, well then … I don’t believe you. Which is why Encanto is a movie that, despite being aimed towards children, will really capture the hearts of adults. And this is exactly what the filmmakers were hoping to achieve.

“We realised that in many families, you get stuck into these roles. And many of these roles are somewhat universal. There’s ‘The Golden Child’ of the family or the one that has all of the responsibilities, ‘The Black Sheep’ of the family. So there’s a lot of things that were very similar no matter where in the world you were,” said Jared Bush.

“So 100% we wanted for people to see their own families, their own friends and their own communities as they watched the movie. And you might be that person that’s resonating, or that might be your sister or your brother, or your mum or your aunt.”

Working alongside the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the music, The team behind Encanto settled on Colombia after they paid a visit to the country and recognised just how diverse it truly was. But representing a group of people comes with immense responsibility, which is why the crew worked with Colombian consultants to ensure everything was portrayed respectfully and accurately.

“We had a group of Columbian consultants, everyone from architects, to food experts, to botanists, to language experts. Because not only is Colombia huge, but it’s also five or six countries in one. So, depending on where you are, the reality can be very very different,” said Howard. “In our film, we were trying to represent as many different regions of Colombia as possible, we wanted a coastal person to feel like a coastal person. So that was absolutely necessary. We never stopped learning and we actually kept making changes until the film was released.”

But it’s not just the story that puts yourself in the main character’s shoes, but also Mirabel’s entire look. From her curly hair to her glasses, Mirabel isn’t your average Disney heroine, and her appearance was an important part of the entire movie.

“We wanted her to feel like you could hang out with her. The idea of glasses was very important because we knew the movie would be about perspective so we wanted to draw attention to her eyes, which was very important. Her name ‘Mirabel’, Mira in Spanish is ‘to look’. So that was all very intentional,” explained Bush.

Encanto is a Disney movie with no tangible villain, instead, the bad guy is the unrealistic expectations and family ideals that are found within every household. The movie has definitely cemented itself as one of my all-time favourite animated films, and regardless of age, it’s sure to be a delight.

Disney’s Encanto is now showing in HOYTS cinemas across Australia.

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