For This Music Is My Language and the World Es Mi Familia – Coco
“There [is] something familiar to us all in this story” remarks director Lee Unkrich. “That [is] what makes it so special.” Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” will debut in theaters this week, and its story about honoring one’s ancestors and following your dreams is the perfect holiday treat this season. Coco finds its origins in Unkrich, who first presented the idea to Pixar seven years ago. The story follows 12-year-old boy Miguel, an aspiring musician who’s family ironically forbids music. He teams up with the the scrappy but streetwise skeleton named Héctor in a remarkable journey through the Land of the Dead.
Miguel is an aspiring singer and self-taught guitarist, who dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol and famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel’s family forbids music, because of an age-old rift between his great-great grandmother and great-great-grandfather. She wanted to raise their family in Santa Cecilia while he could not let go of his dream of becoming a musician. When he leaves his family behind to pursue his dream, Mamá Imelda imposes a ban on music which is passed down through the generations.
Miguel’s pursuit of his dream uncovers a family secret and a connection to de la Cruz. When Miguel shares the news with his family, it causes further conflict, forcing him to choose between his love for his family and his dream of becoming a musician. His impulsivity sets off a magical event which makes him visible only to those who have come to visit from the Land of the Dead on Día de los Muertos. In this vibrant world live generations of people who left the Land of the Living including Miguel’s ancestors. Their offer to help is conditional…he must give up music forever. Unwilling to give up his dream, Miguel encounters the streetwise skeleton Héctor, who both set off to find de la Cruz. They believe he is the answer to uncovering Miguel’s confusing family history.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Coco
The story of Coco is inspired by Mexico’s people, cultures and traditions – Lee Unkrich
- The Filmmakers include subtle nods to the skeleton residents in the Land of the Dead. For example, the cobblestone streets feature bone-shaped paving stones.
- While the artists at Pixar typically add vegetation to exterior environments, they felt the Land of the Dead should be different. The only living plants in this fantastical world are marigolds.
- The color and aroma of the marigold petals are believed to help guide the spirit of a family’s loved one home during Día de los Muertos.
- Miguel’s canine companion Dante is a Xolo dog, which is short for Xoloitzcuintli. This is the national dog of Mexico and has its origins in Mesoamerican civilization. The filmmakers invited local Xolo dogs to Pixar so the artists could interact with them and study their anatomy.
- The Xolo is often depicted as having its tongue hang out due to missing teeth. The filmmakers wanted to include this characteristic in Dante’s design and his tongue actually behaves like a character on its own.
- In the film, Miguel recycles an old guitar by patching it up and painting it to mirror de la Cruz’s signature guitar. In order to create an authentic look, Unkrich enlisted his son to create the recycled guitar’s design.
- All of the guitar playing in Coco is technically accurate. The filmmakers strapped a GoPro onto the guitars of musicians to give animators reference footage.
- Chicharrón is the least remembered character in the Land of the Dead. Artists wanted to showcase the effects of being forgotten: his face has more chips and grooves, and his bones are much looser and more weathered than his counterparts.
- More than 500 pieces of clothing were made to dress the crowd characters. Artists shaded, shaped and combined the 500 individual pieces in a variety of ways to outfit thousands of crowd characters.
- Character artists spend months finding the right look for each character, specifically Ernesto de la Cruz. As the larger-than-life character known around the world, they wanted to give him identifiable attributes including a cleft in his chin, a distinctive curl of hair, a pencil-thin mustache, and pristine bones, all so that he would be well-remembered.
Disney•Pixar’s Coco debuts in theaters November 22, 2017. In honor of the film’s release, download our free Coco Printables and Recipes.