Encanto is setting pandemic box office records for animated films and it’s not hard to see why. Between Lin Manuel-Miranda’s outstanding score and a diverse cast, I believe Encanto speaks to this new generation like older Disney flicks didn’t.
Disney’s Encanto has been one of Disney’s greatest successes in the streaming era, both for its cinematic and musical aspects. The movie’s soundtrack has stayed at the top of Billboard’s chart for an impressive streak of six weeks, with “We don’t talk about Bruno” hitting over 140 million streams in a week, beating Frozen’s viral “Let It Go” as Disney’s greatest hit in more than 26 years.
The songs owe a part of their success to TikTok. Multiple songs from the album have become famous audios for the creation of content on the platform, spreading the movie’s popularity beyond the younger audience and having all of us obsessed with its hits.
The reason why the songs work so well within social media is mainly their musical style. As Jackson Weaver explained in a recent CBC article, the “aural complexity of the music itself” and its use of an arrangement of multiple voices increases its potential for content creators.
The use of multiple voices increases the appeal of the songs, not only due to its compatibility with social media, but also for the themes they evoke. The animation’s music emphasizes the narrative’s themes of family and union. As the songs’ writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, said in an interview for The Associated Press “we’ve been locked up for two years, the notion of a bunch of voices happening within one home feels very resonant, with hindsight.”
Latinx representation in media
The movie’s brilliant soundtrack is not the only reason why audiences of different ages are all currently obsessed with Encanto. For me, the movie’s emphasis on the representation of Latinx people and culture shows an exciting development for mainstream media and is creating excitement for those who have been waiting to see themselves represented on screen for too long.
Several videos recorded of people happy to see themselves represented in the characters from Encanto have gone viral on social media. One of the film’s actresses, Stephanie Beatriz, spoke about this excitement and the Latinx community’s long hope for representation in an interview for New York Daily News.
“As somebody who grew up watching TV, constantly looking for people that look like me or look like my mom or look like my dad and coming up short a lot of the time, I think it would have been very satisfying as a kid,” she says.
The problem is that there are few options in mainstream media for us to attach to, and when there are, there is a high chance that the Latinx person will be a criminal or a side character that doesn’t have a lot of screen time. As a Latina watching Encanto, it was really exciting to see us as the main characters, as a family and as a community, for once.
Representation was a main focus for Encanto’s producers. They spent over five years researching to ensure the movie authentically represents Colombian culture and invited Colombian and Latinx artists to be a part of this process, to ensure the characters’ culture is represented accurately down to the smallest details.
Finding ourselves in the Madrigals
Along with the soundtrack and Latinx representation, Encanto’s popularity amongst all audiences is also due to the characters’ traits and relatability. Encanto’s Madrigal family members are distinctive in their personalities, each representing a different archetype that makes it so all of us can feel a connection to at least one of them regardless of who they are.
Co-director Charise Castro Smith said that his hope is that everybody can see their family reflected in the movie in some way, and that the producers, “really tried to build it from a foundation of these family archetypes that are immediately relatable,” Castro Smith told Yahoo Finance.