"Coco" Holds True to Values, Traditions and Background

Teaching about our community's traditions and culture to others

By Daniel Otero
Published on LatinoLA: February 4, 2018

"Coco" Holds True to Values, Traditions and Background

"Coco" represents the current issues on what's happening between the U.S. and Mexico. Reflecting on how these two nations are intertwined historically and socially. With an all Hispanic/Latino cast, highest investment and tripling in its earnings; it clearly and continues to show how much the U.S. still needs its immigrant community to succeed.

Some cartoons can teach a deeper meaning to life. This is one example from PIXAR.

Let's begin explaining what is Day of the Dead (Dia de los muertos). It's a national day in Mexico to remember those who have past away, people build altars and give offerings with the decease's favorite treats (usually memorialized between 31 October to 2 November); which for many countries around the world celebrate it in different forms. In China it's called, Qingming (Tomb Sweeping Day) and in the U.S., U.K. or Ireland, it's All Soul's Day.

But one thing holds true, it's to remember the dead.

In the case of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), the Day of the Dead is about to begin... But he wants to play in the music festival. His family wants him to uphold family traditions and become a shoemaker and not a mariachi. This little boy's family denies music, because of a sad-cruel past. When Coco's (Miguel's great-grandmother) father 'abandoned' the family.

Here is where Miguel has an argument with his grandmother and family and runs away to the cemetery.

He's purpose is to 'borrow' the guitar from Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a famous singer in life, now deceased.

Something strange occurs when he grabs the guitar. He suddenly crosses over. And he's transported into the land of the dead.

There, he'll meet his deceased-family members.

But there's a problem, Miguel must cross back into the land of the living before sunrise or he'll remain with his deceased-family members forever.

Here's when Miguel embarks on his adventure. Before he goes back, he wants to meet his great-great grandfather, who he thinks is Ernesto de la Cruz. To get his blessing and become a musician.

Miguel will meet up with a swashbuckling-trickster, Hector (Gabriel Garcia-Bernal), who tells the boy he knows Ernesto and can help him.

However, Hector has problems of his own. He needs to get his photograph to the land of the living or he won't be able to cross once a year. Therefore, if he cannot cross, he'll be forgotten by his family members and his spirit will disappear forever.

Miguel agrees to help out Hector and take his photograph back once their mission is completed.

Miguel and Hector team-up to get into Ernesto's mansion. However, when they finally find the famous musician who is much more famous in the land of the dead than the living, they also discover that Ernesto is a fraud. He stole all the songs from Hector in life and murdered him--when his friend was trying to go back home. Yes, Hector never abandoned his family. Furthermore, turns out, Ernesto isn't Miguel's great-great grandfather, but it's Hector himself.

At the music festival in the land of the dead, they must fight Ernesto. That's when Hector reunites with his estranged-dead family and they find out the truth of his murder and murderer.

Ernesto tries to hurt and destroy little Miguel, but he's caught on television cameras trying to do so. Here's when he'll be dishonored and forgotten for his evil deeds in both worlds, the land of the living and the dead.

Miguel is transported back to the land of the living just in the 'nick of time'. But he goes back without Hector's photo.

Back home, when Miguel's searching among Coco's things, he finds Hector's notebook and a piece of his torn photograph. By placing this torn photo together, Hector will be remembered and can cross once a year into the land of the living.

Miguel is able to chase after his dream and become a professional musician.

What can this film teach us?

It can teach children about life and death, and the normalcy of this, without denying the facts. It teaches about the importance of family and upholding traditions; therefore, never forgetting customs. Something which societies are often too keen on doing today in their pursuit of modernity. There's a lesson for all, to never lose hope or give up in life. That not everything is lost if memories and love remain.

I gave this motion picture four-stars out of five for its content, quality and deeper meaning.

About Daniel Otero:
I'm a freelance writer for the Beijing Global Times Metro and Future Handling Hong Kong. I have lived eight years in China and do full time work as an ESL teacher with children and University students.
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