This Pixar feature is a classic
Coco (2017) is certainly Pixar’s best movie. What drew me to the film is not exactly its stunning visuals, but the emotions you’ll share with the characters.
Little Miguel pursues a dream that brings him to the underworld — the dream of becoming a musician and meeting his great-grandfather. He learns life (and death) lessons along the way, of course.
I’m guessing the film made the most money in collectivist-religious societies like the Philippines (and Mexico, certainly, where the story is set). It’s in these cultures where love for family seems to be most manifested and celebrated. While Mexicans have Dia de Muertos, we Filipinos have Undas which commemorates — to a quasi-festive level — our beloved departed. It’s the same theme of remembering dead loved ones whom, in a sometimes macabre manner, we treat as alive (e.g. talking to their graves and leaving them their favorite food or drink).
I like how the movie pulls you to become part of Miguel’s family. Suddenly I loved Mama Coco (Miguel’s soft-spoken great-grandmother who has severe dementia) — or was it that I just missed my grandmother who died more than a decade ago? Suddenly I felt sad for Hector, who can’t visit the land of the living because nobody remembers him anymore — or was it that I suddenly became conscious of loved ones whom I’ve taken for granted and somehow forgotten? It’s these feelings that make Coco quite the hammer blow to my oh-so-fragile heart.
In the end, Coco reminds us that life on earth is fluid and impermanent. It’s a continuous welcoming and letting go. And it’s sad, really. But then, put into the picture love and memory. The whole drama of life and love and loss unfolds. And it’s beautiful. Sad, but beautiful. But, as the film suggests, there’s no need to lose joy: there is always the hope of ultimate reunion.