Coco is an incredibly cute family film. It’s a Pixar/Disney movie filled with catchy music and vibrant animation. However, the subject matter of the film isn’t typically associated with being cozy, fun, and cheerful in the Netherlands. It’s about death. How wonderful it is to use this film as a springboard to discuss such a topic.

Dia de Muertos

It’s been a while since I watched the film Coco, but I do remember that it revolves around the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) in Mexico. On this day, families honor their ancestors and leave gifts and delicious food on small altars or graves for the deceased. In this film, it serves as the starting point for Miguel’s quest to find his great-great-grandfather. He knows very little about this man. And I think that’s the essence of the Day of the Dead: not so much that the deceased return as ghosts, but that we remember and talk about our ancestors – and more directly, our parents and grandparents.

Miguel has a little secret: he loves making music, but his family forbids it. He doesn’t know why. But perhaps his search is connected to it. Was his great-great-grandfather a musician by any chance? Miguel manages to enter the land of the dead, even though he’s still alive. There, he encounters various deceased individuals who try to help him. His quest introduces him to his family and uncovers some hidden secrets.

And who is Coco?

So, who is Coco? She is Miguel’s grandmother, who has kept silent about her father (or grandfather, I seem to have lost track) whom Miguel is now searching for. And, of course, there’s a grand romantic story behind it all. The entire film revolves around love and the pain that sometimes accompanies it. Loss and pain is so linked to love and life. You have to learn to cope with it, even as a child.

But fortunately, all these heavy themes are wrapped in a joyful and beautiful form of animation. There are light-hearted moments and heavy moments, funny events and moments that you need a tissue. This film is filled with emotions and that’s what makes it so beautiful.

Traditions, family, and love

In the Netherlands, we’re used to coffee and cake. This film shows that there can be other traditions where you celebrate life while remembering your beloved departed. And I find that beautiful. I’ve also reached an age where I have more years behind me than ahead (unless I have super genes!), and funerals seem to occur more frequently. It often seems like everyone marks a tick in the “loss” column, while you have gained so much from everyone you’ve lost.

Coco reminds you of that. It’s okay to think about the good times, as it can help you find a better place for your grief. Be prepared to shed a tear or two while watching this film, but don’t be afraid of it. Despite that, it’s simply a beautifully told story in a fantastic world. Sit back, relax, and enjoy it.

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