The film Coco is centered on the character of Miguel, a young boy aged 12 who has a deep passion for music. However, his family members who are cobblers have forbidden the practice of music for generations. Music is treated as an omen in this family because Miguel’s great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife to pursue his music. Will Miguel adhere to his family’s rules or will he follow his heart? This film exhibits numerous magical elements such as surrealism, use of myths, time, hybridity, political critique, and fantasy.
Surrealism is the art of combining objects, ideas, and objects in a peculiar way of making it look like a dream. This element has been used in this film at the instance where Miguel’s family is set for the Dia de Muertos holiday, but Miguel sneaks away to the neighborhood with the intention of showcasing his musical talent. However, in his quest to acquire a guitar he drifts across a golden bridge and finds himself in the land of the dead. Here Miguel meets a person named Hector. Not to mention, he gets acquainted with his long-dead descendants whom he seen on photographs. This land is also home to spirit animals and magical alebrijes whose responsibility is to help provide directions to people who have lost their way like the case of Miguel. Surrealism has made Miguel experience life in the world of the dead and to meet his dead relatives.
Time is another magical element that has been used in this film. Magic realists exhibit a vast knowledge on how to play around with time, for instance, now and again the time may move back to several decades or centuries in the past instead of going forward. Also, the time may move into several centuries into the future instead of following the order of events. In Coco, the magical element of time has been used where Miguel drifts into the land of the dead and meets his long dead relatives. This has happened within a spur of the moment. A moment ago Miguel had slipped from his family and into the neighborhood to participate in a music contest, however, in search of a guitar he has suddenly wandered into a land of the dead where he meets his dead relatives, who passed on many years before he was born. Therefore, Miguel had drifted from the present time and into the past.
Hybridity is another crucial magical realism feature. It involves the art of making things seem extraordinary. In this film, hybridity is characterized by the floating buildings and people that Miguel encounters in the land beyond. We are all aware that due to gravity buildings and people cannot float, but in this film the director wants us to experience things extraordinarily. This feature is also evident in the image of a multicolored and flying tiger-dragon that dives across the land of the dead. The act of Miguel going back in the past and meeting his dead relatives is also extraordinary as well as all the mystery found in this magical land like the spirit animals.
Most magic realists frequently build their inspirations from different kind of myths. The film has also incorporated the use of myths. Miguel’s family is celebrating the Day of the Dead; this is a traditional Mexican ceremony where families build beautiful altars, pathways of marigolds and painted skulls to usher in the spirits of their departed loved ones to visit the living for a short duration. Miguel’s beliefs about this feast could be what connected him to experience life at the land of the dead where he could meet his departed ancestors. In this film, the element of fantasy is also exhibited. In the world of magic, all things are possible, and the journey of Miguel into the land of the dead displays this, one moment he was in the present world and the next moment he has drifted into the land beyond where he experiences a lot of mysteries.
Political critique is also a dominant element in this film. Magic realism may incorporate a variety of mundane and extraordinary events or things. However, it also creates a picture of the reality in the society we are living in which could be in the form of political policies or social issues. In this film, Miguel’s family policies prohibit him from following and engaging in any music, yet that is what he wants to pursue. This leaves him no option but to sneak away from his family and into the neighborhood to participate in a music contest; he feels that he belongs to the world of music. Even after he wanders into the land of the dead, he realizes that music is very significant to his life. In this way, the film is trying to criticize parents and societies who coerce their children to pursue careers or fields which they are not passionate or do not like. Art is also a significant career which plays a vital role in human lives. People with a passion for art should also be supported.