How Pixar’s Coco Honors Mexico—and Defies Trump – Vanity Fair

Bring the tissues, because Disney/Pixar’s latest animated feature, Coco is a real tearjerker. Set in Mexico against the culture and folklore of Día de Muertos (the Day of the Dead)— a national holiday that honors departed loved ones—the emotional movie centers on universal themes.

“The film is very much about family, specifically the importance of remembering family and passing along stories to future generations so that people aren’t forgotten and lost to time,” director Lee Unkrich told Vanity Fair at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico on Friday evening, where the picture opened the event with its world premiere. “And that’s the core idea of what Día de Muertos is all about.”

Coco is about 12-year-old Miguel (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician like his deceased idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt)—despite his family vehemently forbidding any form of music at home, ever since his great-great-grandfather was said to have deserted the family to pursue a singing career. After his grandmother catches him playing the guitar, Miguel runs away from home. When he mysteriously ends up in the Land of the Dead, he discovers the secrets behind his family’s heritage and his great-grandmother Coco’s mysterious past.

At the start of movie’s production six year ago, the filmmakers made a trip to Morelia to conduct research on Mexican culture and tradition. Located northeast from Mexico City, Morelia is a charming, historic city known for its Day of the Dead festivities, stunning religious buildings, baroque architecture, hospitable residents, and a world-renowned music conservatory. It’s fitting for Coco to screen for the first time at the Morelia Film Fest, now in its 15th year, especialy just a few weeks before the Mexican holiday.

Gael García Bernal, who voices the skeletal Hector—who helps Miguel navigate through the Land of the Dead—is proud to make a film that represents his Mexican background. “I’m excited to show this very special film and to tell the world about the Mexican culture and our traditions,” García Bernal told V.F. on the red carpet. “It’s incredible and an important moment. There’s a lot of emotion, and it’s beautiful that the film truthfully tells the story of life and death and the identities of being a Mexican in a positive and human way.”

Even as the film debuts, Donald Trump’s controversial, long-promised Mexican border wall may be getting closer to becoming a reality; construction on prototype designs is nearly complete. In light of that, we asked the filmmakers what President Trump could learn from watching Coco.

“I hope he and anyone who watches this film will have their heart touched and have the desire to connect with the people around them,” said co-director and writer Adrian Molina. “And that people will see Mexico as a beautiful culture that has such a powerful connection to family. I hope they go home and they will call up their grandparents and they say, ‘Tell me about stories. Tell me about our history.’ And I think that comes from this beautiful tradition. If our film is successful in doing that, we will be very proud. So much of the beauty of the Mexican culture comes from the language and traditions, and we wanted to incorporate it into the storytelling.”

“I’ll just say I hope he watches it,” added Unkrich, who also helmed Toy Story 3. “Mexico is a beautiful country full of beautiful people. We feel very honored that we can do our part to try to share the beauty of Mexico with the rest of the world. I know from the people that we’ve shown the film to, they’ve come away with a real appreciation and understanding and respect for what Día de Muertos is all about. I know there is a lot of confusion of what Día de Muertos is—like, people see it as a Mexican Halloween, and it’s not that at all.”

Meanwhile, Garcia Bernal—who made reference to Trump at the Oscars in February by declaring, “As a Mexican, as a Latin-American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that separates us”—refused to even acknowledge Trump and his politics.

“Let’s not talk about that guy,” he said on the red carpet. “Let’s not mention him, ever!”

Coco opens in the U.S. on November 22.

Metropolis
2001: A Space Odyssey
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
E.T.
Under the Skin
Ex Machina
Arrival
Metropolis

Metropolis

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

E.T.

E.T.

Star Wars IV

Star Wars IV

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

The Matrix

The Matrix

Gravity

Gravity

Under the Skin

Under the Skin

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Arrival

Arrival

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*