A Miracle on Screen: The Oddly Paced Enchantment of “Encanto”


Used with permission from Disney.com under fair use

Taking place in the mountains of Colombia, “Encanto” (2022) tells the story of a magical family and their journey of accepting a member who has no magical gift. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios, optioned under Fair Use.

Carlos Nunez, staff writer

Encanto (2022) is an animated children’s film released on November 24, 2021 directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Despite some pacing issues, this film is arguably the most beautifully animated film I’ve ever seen.

 The film takes place in the mountains of Colombia and is centered around one multigenerational magical family, la familia Madrigal. The Madrigals have each been blessed with a magical gift, with the exception of the main character, Mirabel. This film explores the importance of family and speaks on nuanced topics like intergenerational trauma, which is huge for a Disney movie. It also tells the story of how an ordinary girl surrounded by extraordinary people saves the very miracle that made her family “special” in the first place.

What made this movie stand out for me was the dark sense of expectation, especially when juxtaposed with its colorful animation. Another thing the movie does well is examining these complex themes through beautiful music. The songs “Waiting on a Miracle”, “Surface Pressure”, and “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” are each wonderfully written pieces by the composer of Hamilton himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

¨We don’t talk about Bruno¨ has officially climbed up to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as of January 31st. This Disney song has surpassed other iconic Disney originals such as ¨A Whole New World¨ from the original Aladdin (1992) and ¨Let it go¨ from Frozen (2013). 

Another amazing aspect of this movie is how it represents culture, specifically the culture of Colombia. I myself cannot speak on the accuracy of the cultural representation, but Mariana Giraldo, a Colombian Sophomore at SFHS, can. 

“I thought it was a really nice movie that shows Colombian culture,” Giraldo said.  “It has some very well known songs that most Colombians would recognize if they heard it, and the river that shows up in the movie is an actual river you can visit in Colombia.” 

Now, despite the fact that I said this movie is beautiful, as far as the pacing of the story itself is concerned, it’s perhaps not the best. The story of Encanto honestly has very poor pacing and feels very rushed. Not only that, but the “adventure” Maribel (voiced by Brooklyn 99‘s Stephanie Beatriz) goes on to uncover a family secret was a let down. In fact, the whole movie feels like the directors tried shoving as much as they could within an hour and thirty minutes, yet somehow the movie still manages to lag in many parts.

Ultimately, the best part about this movie is its diversity of people of color in the family as well as the town. This is very important because children of color aren’t typically shown as the main characters in American cartoon entertainment, especially from an animation powerhouse like Disney.  This film also depicts a woman of color as the lead character and another woman of color as the most beautiful girl in town.  It’s a far cry from the original Disney Princesses of the 1990s, who were all Caucasian.   

Sindy Moreno, a South Forsyth alumna states, “Watching Encanto moved me to tears. Growing up watching primarily European women as princesses irritated me. As a child, growing up thinking I could never be a princess because of the color of my skin took a toll on me.  I hated my ethnic features for so long but finally being able to see myself in a Disney character was magical.”

You can view Encanto (2022) on the Disney+ platform with a current subscription.