Disney Pixar’s COCO celebrates family life, is inspired by the colorful Day of the Dead celebration, knows the meaning of this celebration and how it inspired the creators of the film.
Before creating the wonderful world of COCO, the creators visited several states of Mexico to understand the true meaning of the celebration, culture, customs and related to this date. They realized that each state celebrates differently, but in the end they share the same purpose, Director Lee Unkrich told us.
Day of the Dead is a joyful celebration of heritage celebrated in Mexico, although it is also celebrated among Mexicans residing in the United States. The celebration is November 2, when the souls of the deceased adults return to visit their relatives. On November 1st we remember the “little angels” the deceased children whose souls return this day.
The roots of the celebration are given in pre-colonial indigenous Mexico. As part of the celebration the souls of the dead are welcomeback into the land of the living, in a beautiful joyful and colorful celebration, a multigenerational family gathering.
Adrian Molina Co-Director of COCO mentions some elements that are observed during the Day of the Dead Celebration in the history of the film:
- The Offering. It is a decorated altar to communicate with its deceased. They offer food, drink and things that the deceased loved in life, to nourish their journey. Something very particular in the offering, are the photos that show love and respect; they have the advantage of inspiring stories, memories that make the family have conversations about the moments they spent with their loved one. In addition, it keeps in mind the connection between our ancestors and the memory.
- Cempaxúchitl flower petals path (Marigolds). The path contains magical petals of cempaxúchitl and is a symbol of connection between generations. It is the bridge between the cemetery and the home, between the world of the dead and the land of the living, it is believed that the vibrant color and smell of the callstone petals of cempaxúchitl script to the spirits in their way.
- Cemetery. In the light of the day of the dead, the family comes to the cemetery to sweep, clean and decorate the graves of their deceased, it is an event in which the whole community participates. At night all families gather individually at the grave of their loved ones, on a very quiet but at the same time joyful occasion. The light of hundreds of candles on the day of the dead, create a magical feeling in the night.
In COCO we will meet Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez), who will make the journey of a lifetime, where he reconnects with his ancestors on his way home, accompanied by Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal).
Another challenge for the creators was to make the audience feel Miguel’s desire to become a musician, following in the footsteps of his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt). Music is forbidden in Miguel’s house, but he has his secret hiding place to remember his idol. That’s where Miguel’s passion for music feels.
For Director Lee Unkrich, research in Mexico was the most inspiring and fun experience he has ever had.
Having the responsibility to be as authentic as possible, without leaving behind the joy of celebration, Mexican culture, the importance of the family; those were the missions when creating this movie.
Mexico is the dream of designers, we wanted to share the rich colors and textures that we saw everywhere, shared with us Director Lee Unkrich.
Factys about Disney Pixar’s COCO
- Lee Unkrich, Director of COCO, proposed the idea of creating a story about the Day of the Dead, in the Fall of 2011.
- The city of Guanajuato, in central Mexico was a great inspiration for The Land of the Dead, it is a very colorful city, with many layers, bridges, tunnels and very thin corridors on the hill.
- COCO premieres in Mexico on October 28 but in the United States until November 22, to avoid being confused with a Halloween movie.
- Land of the Dead. Most of the time is night, the streets are dusty and shaped like towers with layers of history, which are always under construction, because they are getting more dead.
- The Marigolds Or Cempaxúchitl Petal Bridge divides the two lands and represents the way for the ancestors to return.
- Cold lights (blue tones) were used in the land of the dead and in the land of the brightest lights.
- Land of the Dead houses are shaped like bones.
- There is much influence from the famous Mexican illustrator, José Guadalupe Posada (creator of the Catrina) in The Land of the Dead.
- The Land of the Dead has no vegetation.
COCO – Concept art by Huy Nguyen. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
- A place very similar to The Grand Central Station in NY is the “customs” where the dead ask for their permission to visit the land of the living.
- 7 million light is the one that makes up The Land of the Dead. They are several layers of light of different intensity that achieve a beautiful effect.
- The green color is the one that was least used to create The Land of the Dead.
I can’t wait any longer to see COCO complete, it brings me many memories of my childhood in Mexico, with my family and with my grandmother, watching her sing their favorite music (from singers very similar to Ernesto de la Cruz) while cleaning the house, also repelling or getting angry , though I never got the flip flop, but that’s right, I took good scolding. This year I’m going to set the altar of the dead for her and my dad, also for my aunt and paternal grandmother.
I was so excited to see COCO that coming from San Francisco my husband took us for a walk around Guanajuato, we were very little, but enough to see me fall in love with the city and see some similarities with the images of the film.
Like COCO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCoco
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Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco
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