Lee Unkrich’s Coco has been influencing my view of life since I saw it back in high school. Unkrich takes a unique perspective when showing us his vision of life after death; which involves the themes of family, determination, and culture. Death has always been surrounded by mystery. This movie shares an interesting idea of what happens after death, adding another piece of fantasy to our other fantasies. Instead of just showing and creating another way of the afterlife, Unkrich also shows the family love that is so sacred, it heals us whenever we are together with our family. The love of a family leads to family traditions, then leads to each and individual person’s identity. Identity helps us to identify who we are, and our goals on the face of the earth. Coco teaches me that no matter what others say, do not take it personally, and keep on pursuing the dream that would one day change our lives.
Many people would be able to relate some specific scenes to their own experiences. For me, I have not experienced Dia de Muertos, but relating to other things that are dissimilar with Day of The Dead is straightforward. For example, the beginning of the movie talks about pursuing a dream even when there are obstacles in the way. When I was about to begin middle school, the band director recruited me and wanted me to play the flute. My mom did not want me to because it requires the sufficient money; we could not afford that because of the financial struggle we were in. I kept on insisting that I have got what it takes to make her proud of the accomplishments that I would soon receive a few years later. At the end of sixth grade, I received “Most Outstanding Woodwind Player” and a Band Camp Scholarship. I consecutively advanced to Area auditions every year of high school, after surpassing the requirements needed at Region tryouts by placing very high in chairs. I was fortunate enough to be able to make the Texas All-State Band my senior year, being the top 0.18% of the 64,000 who started the audition process in November. Going back to Coco, Miguel wants to be a musician like his great-great-grandfather, but his grandmother presents hatred towards musicians and rejects Miguel’s dream. He is determined to enter a talent show for the Día de Muertos despite his family’s objection. Upon being invisible and going through all the events in the Land of the Dead, Miguel’s family finally approves the future that Miguel always wanted.
The ideas that are presented in Coco is pretty relatable and very effective. As the film progresses, Miguel’s great-great-grandmother (Imelda) held a serious grudge towards his great-great-grandfather (Hector). The grudge is so severe that Hector could have been forgotten forever. This reminds us that it is never too late to forgive. And there is always a time to let go of anything, especially a grudge. This also touches upon the fact that we should not fight with those who are significant to us. Friends will come and go, but family will always be by our side forever. So treat them with respect and never forget them. Coco’s demeanor tells us that should cherish the moments with our family not only when they are here with us, but when they pass as well. “Seize your moment,” this phrase is said multiple times throughout the movie and it carries a high meaning. We all have dreams with not nearly as many opportunities to match, but if there is a chance to grasp, take it without hesitation. Coco does a great job when inspiring its viewers of any age to be courageous even when the odds do not seem to be in our favor. Taking chances is something that can lead to a successful life, but most of all, becoming a better a person.
There are also a few ideas that might set an alarm inside others’ heads. For example, because being remembered in the land of the living keeps one intact in the afterlife, then the most important thing is to become famous. Some may think that a devoted family may remember us for generations, but worldwide fame guarantees immortality. For Catholics, there is an idea that basic desires of the heart are not always noble. Yet in other movies, especially by Disney, it is a given that one’s heart is a proper map for optimal success in life, whether it is romantic, heroic, or in Coco’s case, vocation. So it is fascinating to see a Pixar movie reject this typical theme in favor of a deeper message: that what we love to do, it can lead to regrets if we are not careful. Also, making a movie entirely about Mexico is alarming to the politic world that we have today. We all know about our current president, Donald Trump, how he dislikes the people of Mexico in a way that he does not want to see one in the country. Constructing Coco is a risky, yet fantastic move by Unkrich. He wants to show the world that we all are just human beings and not separated by economic status. Coco also has a message about determination towards a goal and that can be treacherous. Ambition can perhaps feed on evil desires, making the person untouchable at times. From a young age, we are taught that ambition is our motivation for life. Left unchecked, however, ambition may backfire and put us in a dangerous place. Some may consider driving towards success is not from the heart, but from others’ view of success for them. Each of us has an ambition. Ambition may entail a healthy balance of perseverance and perspective, hunger and humility. At this very moment, we may be reaching for our dreams at the costs of our own and others’ well-being, health, and happiness. As for my experiences with ambition, one that stands out the most to me is being a leader of my band program. I was the Drum Major of the band, the top of the whole program. In order to fulfill my desire to become the perfect leader for everyone to look up to, I had to push everyone and overworked during and after rehearsals. I was always stressed out because of the pressure from everyone, my fellow Drum Majors, and my band directors. Some people hated me because I was being too harsh and that moment made me realized that I have been hurting others based on my actions. Coco’s message on ambition can be a goal for most people, but those who have not have the experiences with it before will crumble on the road for success.
In some movies, Mexico is a place where bad things happen. Even in animated form, Mexican characters have not come off well. El Macho, the villain of Despicable Me 2, for example, was a compilation of stereotypes: chubby, hairy chest, very romantic, and owns a Mexican restaurant. Basically, things have not moved on much. So it is a relief that Hollywood has finally redeemed itself with the new Pixar animation, Coco. The movie genuinely gives Mexico a good name. Like the best of Pixar’s movies, it reaches emotional depths few live-action films do, especially as the story takes the boy hero into the afterlife in the Day of the Dead, where he meets his skeleton ancestors. Coco not only steeped in Mexican culture and tradition, but it also gets it right, from the dances to the tiniest of details. Rewatching Coco for the third time actually did get under my skin. I found myself wondering, for perhaps the first time, about my identity. I was always so careless about what others think about me because caring about the things that they say, leads to changing the lifestyle that has been already set by fate. More importantly, Coco has been viewed by 4,000 out of the 4416 cities in the world. This means that a lot of people are influenced by the messages that the movie is meant to put forth. With the number of people that have seen the movie, the world may be a better place after all. If Coco has influenced me positively, then out of all those who have seen it, the majority of them will be amended.