“Encanto” 1st Trailer Promises A Return To Disney Musicals

For the fourth-largest continent on the planet Earth, South America has only served as the setting of one major Disney Animation film to date – the ambiguously Incan-inspired The Emperor’s New Groove – while Europe, only the fifth-largest continent, is the backdrop to innumerable Disney fairytales, from Snow White to Frozen II. But that’s going to change later this year with the release of Encanto, a completely original musical from the mind of Tangled director Byron Howard, which will turn a spotlight on Colombian culture and folklore. And today, we got our first good look at Encanto in a short but visually stunning teaser that effortlessly nudges the film to the forefront of the race for Best Animated Feature at next year’s Oscars.

Encanto
Casa Madrigal | pastemagazine.com

Encanto continues Disney Animation’s recent trend of experimenting with their tried-and-true Disney Princess formula, as the film’s frizzy-haired, bespectacled heroine Mirabel isn’t technically a Princess by the studio’s strict standards. Instead, she hails from a highly-esteemed family of matriarchal multigenerational magic-users who live together in a marvelous house called Casa Madrigal on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest. She wears a dress, so by Maui’s definition she’s at least halfway to being a princess already, but the only animal sidekicks at Casa Madrigal seem to be devoted to another young scion of the family tree; a boy whose name is probably Carlos, if character details obtained by The DisInsider in December of last year still hold true.

And oh, the animal sidekicks! Honestly, most of the Disney Princesses should be embarrassed, parading around in the forest with their deer and chipmunks and the occasional singing crab, while Carlos is out here riding a jaguar, accompanied at all times by a tapir, a flock of macaws and toucans, a family of capybaras, and a couple of ring-tailed coatis. The sheer abundance and diversity of South American wildlife on display in Encanto is something I could ramble on about for quite some time, but I think I’ll spare you. I just hope there’s plenty of scenes in the rainforest, so we can see some tree-frogs, maybe an anaconda or two, perhaps a sloth.

But I also want to spend as much time as possible in Casa Madrigal, the sentient house. We’re so used to seeing magic – particularly in animation – as clouds of multi-colored CGI glitter and smoke, that it’s a really welcome change to visit Casa Madrigal, where the magic is almost entirely conveyed through ripples in the stonework, tiled surfaces, and floorboards, which create kaleidoscopic patterns or help the Madrigal family in small ways. Each of the Madrigals has their own individual talent, which they bring to the design and decoration of their little corner of Casa Madrigal – from one girl’s bedroom balcony being weighed down by the giant pink flowers she’s able to conjure from thin air (based on The DisInsider‘s reporting, I suspect that girl’s name is Ines), to Carlos’ being decorated with paintings of the animals with which he can communicate. I love it when a film is able to make a location feel vividly real, and Encanto definitely seems to be doing just that.

Encanto
Carlos Madrigal | joblo.com

The crux of Encanto‘s plot, however, is that our protagonist, Mirabel, is the only member of the Madrigal family who doesn’t have a magical gift – and it inspires an amusing, if slightly awkwardly written gag in the trailer where she gets a gift from the postman as a kind of “not-special special”. I can’t pass judgment on the story just yet, because that’s essentially everything we know: and to be honest, a few of the shots in the trailer don’t even look like scenes from the actual movie, but more like some kind of pre-vis animation designed to showcase character movements and mannerisms (although if they are from the movie, I suspect many of them are from some kind of introductory montage at the beginning).

We also don’t get to hear too much of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original music for Encanto in this teaser – just bits and pieces of something that sounds reminiscent of Miranda’s work on In The Heights, his first stage musical and the source material for a recent film adaptation which Miranda produced and cameoed in. That being said, Miranda is still undeniably a big part of Encanto – for instance, I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that Stephanie Beatriz went from having a scene-stealing role in In The Heights to being confirmed as the voice of Mirabel Madrigal – and I’m sure it won’t be long before the airwaves are deluged with whatever catchy new earworm he’s cooked up.

Encanto
Ines Madrigal | mickeyblog.com

It’s early to be making predictions about Encanto‘s quality when the film is still several months away, but I know that there’s a number of people who will love this, and I expect it to be a big hit with viewers who are excited for the mix of Colombian representation and Disney magic, fans who have been starved for Disney musicals recently, and folks who are really just here for Mirabel’s muscular older sister Lydia, whose biceps are giving Princess Namaari’s rhomboids a run for their money.

Trailer Rating: 8/10

“Encanto” In The Works At Disney!

Who doesn’t love a good old Disney animated movie? The studio’s recent mini-Renaissance has given us what are (arguably, I suppose) instant classics like Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, and Frozen II, and hopefully we can soon add Raya And The Last Dragon to the list. But another film from the acclaimed studio is quickly upcoming, and now, thanks to reporting from The DisInsider, we have a title to tentatively attach to the project: Encanto.

Encanto Disney
nerdist.com

Encanto, the Portuguese word for “charm”, may only be a working title for the film, but it certainly feels appropriate considering what little we now know about the story itself: Encanto is supposed to center around the story of a Brazilian family who all possess magical powers – all, that is, except the protagonist, a young girl whose name is still unknown. Should this storyline survive into the final film, the heroine will join several other notable women of color in the Disney roster; though it is not known as of yet whether she will be considered for a spot amongst the Disney Princess line-up. Of course, there are several rules about just who can and can’t be an official Disney Princess, and we don’t yet know if the heroine of Encanto will pass the test.

As for other plot details, we simply don’t know anything yet. The Portuguese-language title means the film is probably set sometime during or after the 1500’s, when forces of the Portuguese empire first settled in Brazil. Most of Disney’s most popular animated films, from Snow White all the way to Frozen II, have been historical pieces, so I’d be a little surprised if this one isn’t – but a historical setting, in this case, might require Disney to tackle the issue of slavery: as a colony, Brazil was built on the suffering of Black slaves, who made up much of the country’s population. Brazil was actually the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888. The easy solution, then, would be to set the film in modern day Brazil. The much harder, but possibly more rewarding, solution would be to try and tell a story that doesn’t gloss over this shameful period in Brazilian history, but instead addresses it with sensitivity and awareness.

Encanto Disney
Colonial Brazil | smarthistory.org

On that note, it’s interesting that the film is supposedly being directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush:┬áthe duo behind the mega-successful phenomenon that was 2016’s Zootopia, a film with very cleverly written but family-friendly social commentary in a stunningly animated, entertaining package. Joining them will be singer/songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, who I guess isn’t ever going to get around to developing that Moana sequel we were all asking for at one point? Miranda’s involvement does, obviously, suggest that this film will be another musical – lending some credence to the theory that the heroine will be a Princess. Charise Castro Smith, a writer and producer on The Haunting Of Hill House, will co-write the script with Bush.

The matter of a release date is still somewhat up in the air, like pretty much everything else in Hollywood right now. Assuming the coronavirus crisis doesn’t necessitate any more calendar-shuffling mayhem, we might expect to see Encanto around Thanksgiving of next year.

So what do you think? How excited are you to see this new Disney animated film? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!