Published On: Sun, Dec 3rd, 2017

Pixar made Coco the biggest hit movie in Mexico’s history

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It’s official: Coco is the biggest blockbuster in Mexican history. Pixar’s story of Miguel, a small-town kid who longs to become a famous artist in spite of his family’s curious aversion to all things musical, has now earned more than a billion pesos—over $50 million—at the Mexican box office, well more than previous record-holder The Avengers. Mexicans usually appear in American cinema either as killers, bandits, migrants or, well, the help.

Coco is something else entirely: a movie set in rural Mexico, rooted in Mexican popular culture, and in which there is not one single mention of crime or migration (other than toward the afterlife). It is a highly accomplished interpretation of a version of Mexico made in the United States, a neighbor with which Mexico has a rather complicated history—all the more so now.

“Unlike most if not all other Pixar films,” co-director and co-screenwriter Adrian Molina (who is Mexican American) told me in an interview, “this was a film based in a real tradition and a real place and a whole set of people who exist. That required us to be very thoughtful.”

For viewers in Mexico, Coco’s authenticity begins with the way the characters speak. Coco’s use of Mexican Spanish is subtle and, obviously, devoid of the Spanglish the English-language version scatters through the film. To dub the characters’ dialogue, Pixar picked singers and actors, both locally famous performers like Angélica Vale, César Costa, and Víctor Trujillo, and household names like Gael García Bernal (whose voice appears in both versions)—as well as other more unexpected choices, like renowned author Elena Poniatowska, who voices Coco herself.

But they deftly steered mostly clear of local slang like the prodigious loquacity put on display by Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez in his version of Shrek’s DonkeyCoco’s characters have no need for that sort of narrative grandstanding to convince the audience that they are thoroughly believable as Mexicans. Its sense of Mexicanness seems organic rather than a Hollywood studio’s ploy for the Hispanic audience.

Coco never needs to sell its authenticity to the viewer because the Mexico it represents feels as if it was created by people who have taken the time to get to know the country, not only its colorful traditions but some of its darker intricacies as well.

 

Click here for full article by Daniel Krauze on Slate

Source: Slate

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