‘Encanto’, the candid look at the Colombian reality


The Disney film is a remarkably well-crafted compendium, with a few slips of cliché, of various aspects of the South American country, from magical realism to violence, through details such as Colombia’s weakness for hammocks or its habit of pointing with its mouth.

Those who say that “Encanto” is a film based on “One Hundred Years of Solitude” certainly don’t read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” any more than the Wikipedia summary. After all, the nod to García Márquez’s novel is nothing more than that, a nod, as is the case with the other artists and art in the film. Those who simply say that this is a film based on Colombia will not be exposed if they think about bringing up the subject the following night. But what does it mean for a film to be based on a country? It’s not something you hear often. In fact, these days you hear when there’s a Disney movie in between: ‘Encanto’ is based in Colombia like ‘Coco’ is based in Mexico like ‘Luca’ is based in Italy. The chronicles that have been written about it speak of recreating the “environment”, or “spirit”, or even the “way of being”. So one can legitimately ask: What is Colombia via ‘Encanto’? And of course it can be answered.

It starts here not because it’s a Colombian main feature – although many believe it –, but because it appears at minute zero of the recording. That’s when we’re told that the Madrigal family are the daughters of forced displacement, which makes them truly Colombian: officially, nearly 8 million Colombians have had to leave their homes in the last few decades. Then the movie comes back to the question and then there’s a picture of the city on fire and a group of thugs on horseback chasing the refugees. The thugs were armed with machetes, a detail that deserves thumbs up for putting the action in at a particular moment: after all, machetes were a favorite weapon of the period known as La Violencia, which devastated rural Colombia between the 1950s and 70s. Conservatives killed liberals and liberals kill conservatives. It was then that the monstrosity known as the Colombian ‘tie’ became popular.

The film is thorough and leaves nothing to chance. Or so it seemed: needed to look at it several times to confirm it for sure. A priori, her love of detail goes beyond passing the food test. The Madrigals eat and dine Colombian style. Is that a pillow over there? That’s for sure: a round cake served with eggs for breakfast. And the egg, is it a parrot egg? By force: the red dots can only be tomatoes –and, as everyone knows, parakeets are prepared with onions and tomatoes–. Later – later in the film – there will be lunch, the scene of Isabela’s proposal. Let’s see, is it really ajiaco? Namely: cream made from different types of potatoes (there are potatoes) in which the potatoes float (too much), chicken pieces and, depending on taste, capers and cream. Let’s ignore the fact that ajiaco is from Bogotá and that Madrigal’s house is not even far from Bogotá or its environs. Not, however, in the ajiaco zone of influence.

Of course, if you look closely, it could also be a sancocho.

Wearing the Mirabel in the typical costume of Antioquia peasant women (without the accent, with the accent on the second syllable) can indicate that all Colombian peasant women are dressed in typical costumes: as if all Andalusian women went out into the streets in their faralaes clothes or as if all Catalans went to dinner with barretina. That said, the textile section of the film is also a summary: from the guayabera that Félix Madrigal wears throughout the film (the black man who reminds us that two of Colombia’s coastlines are inhabited by black people) to the immaculate suit and vest he wears. usually wears the father of the protagonist (a transcription of elegance attributed to the inhabitants of the capital, still known as cachacos or rolos). Dolores, the sister with extraordinary hearing, was given the appearance and, above all, dressed as a Caribbean woman, capable of walking for hours with a disproportionately large tray of fruit on her head. Nothing was lost in the mountains, but there it was.

It’s not enough that the family is magical to relate the film to García Márquez’s magical realism, as anyone would understand, but respect is clearly paid to him: the abundance of yellow butterflies is no accident. And – as has been said – he is not the only artist to honor. At some point in the film, the chords of ‘En Barranquilla me quedo’ are echoed, by the deceased salsero Joe Arroyo, a kind of local legend, and we must not forget that the song in the film is by Carlos Vives, whose commercial aspect should not let one forget. that he is one of the great innovators of Colombian music. Anyway: in ‘Encanto’ there are hammocks because Colombians are a hammock-loving person, and there is roasted corn because one of the classic informal jobs is to put the grill in any corner and sell roasted corn. There is a ruana because in Andean cities people wear ruana, and Mirabel points with her mouth because Colombians are like that, lovers of verbal rescue, and there is a matriarch who is in charge of the family because Colombia is a matriarchal country, where there is always a mother who puts everything on his shoulders.


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