As I am writing this, I am not ashamed to admit that I am now on my second watch, you know… just in case I missed something the first time or so I can sing along to some of the songs.
🎶🎤 We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no! 🎤🎶 I have a feeling that this will be on my 2022 recap on Spotify based on how many times I’ve played it, even before seeing the film.
I had seen a few articles online about the parallels between Encanto’s Mirabel and living with autism in a neurotypical family and usually I don’t need an excuse to watch a kids film but though this would be the perfect opportunity to get it done and see if I pick up on some of the same themes or to see if it resonates with me but, before I start I want to state that I am super excited to see that Disney are continuing to become more diverse. Plus, they have finally introduced a main character who wears glasses so I’m all in for this movie. A friend of mine explained to me why they decided to have a lead wearing glasses and it’s really lovely, a 9-year-old girl wrote to Disney and basically called them out for having no characters that look like her. I’ve managed to find a tweet about it from the director/writer, Jared Bush. https://twitter.com/thejaredbush/status/1488875738463834116 it also includes a video from the girl. Disney really are stepping away from their poor history with acceptance of any kind… If you haven’t seen the Sparkshort short films on Disney+, then you must check them out, specifically Float and Loop.
Float to me, perfectly depicts the struggle of acceptance when you have a neurodiverse child and Loop helps understand what that child may go through… I highly recommend you give them both a go, especially since they’re only about 10 minutes long, I’ve wasted more time watching adverts or thirst traps on TikTok🤣
As soon as we, the audience find out that Mirabel has no gift, the other characters seem to refer to it a lot… some in subtle ways and some not so subtle. There is a definite similarity there between everyone pointing out she is different, and the way people behave about William being autistic. The label of being autistic seems to come before people know William’s name… ‘the autistic boy’ ‘my friend’s kid is autistic’ The label seems to come before he does. Its almost as if William can’t be William without someone mentioning his autism, just like Mirabel can’t be part of the family Madrigal without someone pointing out that she isn’t like them.
The scene under the bed with Antonio was beautifully done, portraying the innocence of a child trying to understand his cousins’ difficulties, he wishes she were like the rest of them but is also scared that he is like her.
The flashback scene 😥I’m broken😭When she went to the door and didn’t het her power, The moment she realised she wasn’t like the rest of them, that she wasn’t ‘normal’, is this what neurodiverse children feel like? Do they know they are different? Does it hurt them? Do we in turn hurt them in the way we treat them?
After Antonio gets his power, Abuela talks about how proud they are of him, and they take a family photo… only Mirabel isn’t in it, and no one realises. She is as much a part of their family as any of them, but they just don’t see it and it hurts. Its hurts from my own experience from times William is left out of things because he isn’t like everyone else. Mirabel sings ‘I’m not fine’ and she’s right. None of it is fine. She and children like William should feel happy, not just fine in places or with people they belong with.
Luisa, she is amazing! I absolutely adore her, another superb first for Disney in introducing such a physically strong female character, their marketing team however felt that she wouldn’t prove popular and chose not to produce many of her figures and merchandise… this was a mistake as her figures sold out fully leading for a big rush to produce more. Rookie mistake Disney, but you’re still making baby steps. Have faith in our kids loving good characters not just ones that society tell us are beautiful 🙄
She sings about the pressure she is under to be strong in every way as she is the big sister and has responsibilities, this resonates as a parent or sibling to a neurodiverse child. We must be strong in order to advocate for our kids, be strong for them and fight but just like Luisa sings; we hurt inside, we feel the pain and anxiety. We are nit made of steel despite our exterior or the persona we use to deal with professionals. Just like the house, the cracks start to show and then suddenly, we aren’t strong anymore which is exactly what happens with Luisa. Another sibling comparison is Isabela however it is one of resentment for the impact Mirabel has had on her would be ‘perfect’ life.
My heart broke when Abuela was yelling at Mirabel, telling her everything was her fault especially when she was the one who puts so much pressure on her family. To blame a 15-year-old child, who already knows she is different is ridiculous and downright mean! Despite this Mirabel still risks her own safety to try and save their powers, powers that she doesn’t have. She loves them despite the way they treat her, for her its unconditional. The flashback scene in which Abuela admits the mistakes she has made and stops blaming Mirabel is nice and a good way to end a kid’s film, but in real life, it doesn’t change the way they have treated her since they found out she was different. The similarity of this and the way the older generation behave around neurodiversity is strong, the lack of understanding… the ‘isn’t it a shame’ comments I have encountered.
The ending has a typical feel-good Disney feeling which I personally haven’t bought into since I was very young, when I realised that the original fairytales were much darker than the sunny versions we were shown.
The morale of the film is that all of them are special, with or without powers and that was the true miracle all along, Mirabel didn’t get a gift because life doesn’t work that way, everyone isn’t the same but that doesn’t mean that those who are different are inferior in any way. I guess it’s the morale of life, isn’t it? We are all different in our own ways and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else but sadly sometime it does 😔
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