This experience was hosted by Disney & Pixar. However, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!
History Behind Dia De los Muertos & Coco Facts
The story of Miguel in the upcoming film Coco is centered around the celebration of Dia De los Muertos. In the film, Miguel crosses over from the “Land of the Living”to the “Land of the Dead” and sets off an extraordinary journey to discover the true story surrounding his family’s history. The filmmakers embarked on several research trips to insure that Dia De los Muertos was represented accurately in the film. Last month, when I attended the Pixar Coco Press Event, I had a chance to learn more about the history and cultural significance of this wonderful event and see how it is portrayed in Coco. The filmmakers have shown great care in sharing the history and significance of Dia De los Muertos so that even those unfamiliar will leave with an understanding of the celebration.
One of the most important things for people to understand is that Dia De los Muertos is not the same thing as Halloween, even though they are celebrated around the same time. Dia De los Muertos is a celebration of life and a time to remember family and friends who have died. It originated in Mexico but is celebrated in parts of Latin America and the United States. The celebration goes from November 1st to November 2nd and families build ofrendas (altars) to honor those that have passed away.
The ofrendas are decorated with candles, photos, calaveras (sugar skulls), marigolds, food, beverages, and papel picado (cut paper decorations.) In honor of the film, Pixar has decorated their Atrium with beautiful Coco inspired papel picado.
Besides the altars that the families build at home, they often decorate the graves of their loved ones and stay up all night on November 1st telling stories of those who have died and celebrating their lives. In the cemeteries, you will find candles as well as marigolds. These are used to create a path that will guide spirits home (or to the cemetery) from the “Land of the Dead.” The strong smell of the marigolds and the color help guide them across the other side. This is represented in Coco as a bridge that connects the “Land of the Living” to the “Land of the Dead.”
In Coco, they use various techniques to showcase each Land. In the Land of the Dead, they create a visual appearance of a huge space, use cool colors, build up vertically, is shown at night, and the only living plants you will see are marigolds.
While in the Land of the Living, it is shown during the daytime, uses warm colors, is built horizontally, and has multiple types of vegetation. They also use a mixture of fog and copal smoke to blend both worlds together as the characters cross the marigold bridge.
The Marigold Central Station (in The Land of the Dead) serves as a type of Victorian DMV where skeletons must pass through in order to see their loved ones and go to the Land of the Living. The design was inspired by the Palacio de Correos (in Mexico City.)
Family is the central theme throughout Coco and it is fitting with the celebration of Dia De los Muertos. This is a time to remember all those that have died in a happy way and helps younger generations to learn about the previous generations. This becomes part of Miguel’s quest in the movie to discover the truth about his family and what bonds them together even though they are apart.
Coco is a love letter to Mexico and you can see it in the details that the filmmakers took to create a wonderful portrayal of Dia De los Muertos. My hope is that those who watch the movie feel inspired to learn more about this rich cultural tradition and leave with an appreciation for family and friends.
Make sure to make plans to see this wonderful heartfelt film in theaters with your family on November 22, 2017.
About the Film
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself magically transported to the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
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Coco is in theaters everywhere on November 22, 2017.