Last night, while enjoying lasagna brought to us by our dear friends Roy and Susan Garcia, Lauren and I and our eight children watched the No. 1 movie on IMDb right now, Disney’s Encanto.
All but our youngest son Andrew and our eldest sons Josiah and Eli had seen the movie already. But everyone was eager to watch it for either the first or second time, and no complaints were to be heard by any at the end.
As critical as I have been of Disney animated fare in recent years, I really have no major complaints with this film, though I do have some caveats.
But on the whole, I think Encanto may just be a new favorite as it tackles some weighty issues where family dynamics are concerned while at the same time being lively, fun, colorful, and entertaining.
Addressing the Cracks in the Walls
Those familiar with my reflections on Walt Disney animated films will know how I have often keyed in on the absence of one or both parents in so many of them. If both mother and father are in the story, they have somehow been sidelined or else serve as opposition figures who need to be proven wrong or overcome.
Just so, I like that there are fathers and husbands in Encanto’s family. I like that Maribel feels like she can talk to both her mom and dad about what she’s going through. And I like that they try to give her helpful advice and encouragement, even when such does not carry her the whole way as far as she needs to get.
So also, Maribel comes into conflict with her Abuela – a strong conservative Columbian grandmother who keeps a stiff upper lip and tolerates nothing which might weaken or threaten her home and family. And she argues with her sister Isabela who can do no wrong. But they talk it through and work it out. And that too is good to see.
Then we come to the figure of Bruno – Maribel’s long-lost uncle who had the ability to see the future. We don’t talk about Bruno. But as it turns out, when the family and townspeople can’t help themselves now that Maribel has brought him up, their complaints about the mysterious figure sound rather irrational and unfair.
Conflict Resolution and Managing Expectations
Everyone feels like Bruno was causing bad things to happen by virtue of predicting that they would. Of course, that’s not the way such things work unless we’re talking about self-fulfilling prophecies which come true in our obsessive efforts to prevent them.
And lo and behold, we do have some self-fulfilling prophecies here, but not so much where Bruno is concerned as where Abuela’s tight reins on the family have even the most gifted members close to nervous breakdowns under the overwhelming pressure to be strong and perfect.
The moral of the story? We need to talk about Bruno. And family is very important. But avoiding talking about family problems doesn’t mean those problems cease to exist or else work themselves out on their own when swept under the rug.
Also, if you really think about it, husbands and fathers are a crucial part of healthy families. And when absent or passive, undue burdens are put on women which they shouldn’t be asked to bear.
At least that’s what I took away from Encanto.
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