Updated: Mar 4
Encanto has officially surpassed Moana as my favorite Walt Disney Animation Studios movie. The music, design, voice acting, and story are all phenomenal. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out.
My girls watch Encanto on repeat. After seeing the movie so much, I’ve had ample time to pick up on some of the themes. One of the best lessons this movie can teach us is about the brokenness inside of all of us.
The cracks that emerge in Casita (the magical house) represent the broken family dynamics and individual struggles. There are at least six different kinds of brokenness embodied by various characters in Encanto. Which one do you relate to the most?
Antonio — Fear of the future.
We meet cousin Antonio under the bed. He hides from his family as they are preparing for his gift ceremony. No one, except Mirabel, takes the time to see how he is feeling.
As it turns out, Antonio is petrified that he won’t receive a special ability like the rest of his magical family. He is afraid that he will suffer the same fate as Mirabel, who didn’t get a gift. Mirabel gives Antonio a stuffed animal jaguar as a going away present for when he moves into his new room. During the ceremony, she escorts him to the top of the stairs when he is too afraid to make the walk alone.
Do you fear the future? Young people tend to deal with this at a higher rate because many unknowns exist. They have their whole lives ahead of them, and they have high hopes. We can become paralyzed by the future. We would rather hide under the bed than face the possibility of being let down.
Mirabel — Extremely average.
Mirabel is the only one in her family without a supernatural gift. To make matters worse, everyone in the community has their eyes on the magical family Madrigal. Mirabel feels the need to be unique and contribute like the rest of her family.
At first, Mirabel tries to play it cool. She pretends that her ordinariness doesn’t bother her. Then in the emotional song “Waiting on a Miracle,” she reveals that she deeply wants to be like the rest of her family.
Do you feel like you aren’t special enough? Maybe you have family members or close friends who are extraordinary. Comparison kills calling. When we are too busy dwelling on who we are not, we lose track of who we are.
Luisa — Crushing pressure.
Luisa is the strong one. Everyone in town counts on her to wrangle donkeys, fix churches, and redirect rivers. Initially, it seems like she handles the endless to-do list with ease. Her twitching eye says otherwise.
She confesses to Mirabel (in song form) that she wishes she “could shake the weight of crushing expectations.” As her strength begins to waver, she starts losing it. Luisa bases her whole identity on being helpful, and she worries that she doesn’t have what it takes.
Do you feel crushing pressure? People might depend on you at work or home. It feels good to be needed until we don’t have time to consider our own needs. Everyone needs time to rest and recharge. If you are consumed with performance or success, it’s only a matter of time until you break.
Bruno — The weirdo.
Bruno doesn’t fit into his own family. Somehow he always gets blamed for the negative outcomes from his prophetic visions. Hence the often repeated “We don’t talk about Bruno!”
He feels so ostracized that he decides to disappear. His love for his family causes him to live in the walls of Casita, where he patches the cracks, spies on the family, and hangs out with rats. Bruno longs to be part of the family but doesn’t feel like they want him around.
Do you feel like a weirdo? Maybe you’ve never really fit in. It’s challenging to find people that accept us, warts and all. It’s heartbreaking when the people closest to you are the ones that make you feel like an outcast. The world is full of people who are on the outside looking in.
Isabela — Maintaining appearances.
More than anyone else in the film, Isabela seems to have everything together. She is perfect. The only problem is she doesn’t want to be.
Isabela’s perfect life is a prison of keeping up appearances. Mirabel sees her sister’s turmoil when she discovers that Isabel is marrying Mariano for the family instead of love. Even the most put-together family member is suffering inside.
Do you feel like you have to be perfect? Maybe not in everyday life, but online? Social media makes it possible to curate the best moments of your life for the world to see. Take 20 photos, post 1. Add a filter to make it look better. Living for likes and comments is an exhausting race with no finish line.
Abuela/Alma — Deep hurt.
The brokenness inside Abuela is decades old. Dangerous men forced her to flee her home. Alma watched her husband Pedro killed in front of her eyes. She raised her three newborn children by herself while serving as a leader for the growing village.
Over the years, Abuela became strict and serious. She put the same burdens that she carried on her children and grandchildren. This unresolved trauma bled down throughout the family tree. Abuela’s intolerance for weakness contributed to the brokenness of the other family members.
Do you have deep wounds? Most people aren’t great at grieving. Yet, the longer we delay our grief, the more it seeps out into our lives. It’s never fun to revisit painful memories, but sometimes that’s the only way to heal.
We are all broken in one way or another. Maybe you resonate with one of the characters from Encanto. Or perhaps it’s something else.
The message of Encanto is, to be honest with yourself. We will never heal until we stop covering up our weaknesses. It doesn’t matter how much spackle Bruno puts on the walls; the cracks will keep coming.
This is where Mirabel comes in. Her gift is empathy. Because she isn’t “special” like the rest of her family, she is the only one that everyone feels comfortable being themselves around. There is power in learning to accept ourselves and others just as we are.
The gospel takes things one step further. Deeper healing comes not only from self-acceptance but also from being accepted by God. Paul teaches us that while we were weak (Romans 5:6), while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), and while we were enemies of God (Romans 5:10), Jesus died for us. As Isaiah prophesied, “with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
When we experience God’s love, we are made alive in Christ. We have a secure identity in who God says we are, and the Holy Spirit heals us. If our identity is in Christ, it takes the pressure off how good we are at accepting ourselves. We can rest in the truth that we are loved and part of God’s family (no matter how gifted we are).
Which character from Encanto do you relate to the most? Let me know in the comments!
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