The film ends with their blurry picture — the best kind, because they reflect the intimacy absent from sanitized photos.
Alma and Mirabel meet. Mirabel is the first to cry and does so where Alma learned to repress emotion. Alma built Encanto on the illusion of grit. The earthquake fills her with vulnerability — through Maribel, who sees beauty in grief.
We return to Pedro and must reckon with forced disappearances and falsos positivos.
In August 2021, the U.S. military murdered a humanitarian aid worker and eight of his family members via drone strike. The Pentagon declared it a strong blow against terrorism. The victims — ISIS-K, the Taliban, or Al-Qaeda — irrelevant. The murder of any colonized person satiates spectators. The U.S. killed innocent non-white people and called this a success.
This issue has persisted in Colombia for decades. The government or right-wing paramilitaries perpetrated massacres in towns, prominently including the murder of 22 laborers in Soacha, Cundinamarca, then outfitted cadavers with rubber boots to report the extermination of a guerrilla cell. The campesino disappeared, replaced by a defeated combatant. Whistleblowers called attention to this long ago. The veil was lifted in during the ongoing peace and reconciliation process that the government engages in stubbornly.
So when Alma relates the trauma of Pedro’s disappearance, know that this persists. In Colombia, organized violence driven by power and capital still displaces towns. Today, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva names Colombia the country with the second-highest number of internally displaced people, counting almost 5 million. Despite this, Colombia is consistently mentioned among the countries with the happiest people, reflecting the same resilience exhibited in the U.S. define through the labor of Black and Indigenous women and femmes.
Before and during the early days of the global pandemic, general strikes took hold of the country. Mingas Indígenas froze Bogotá for months and created autonomous mutual aid zones in el Valle del Cauca. Despite threats of brutal murder, Francia Marquez continues mobilizing in defense of water and is running for president.
And the boulders rising from the ground: they allude to Guatapé — a beautiful town near where I’m from. But don’t let them take you to la Piedra del Peñol without telling you of the flooded town underneath.
It almost seems like Pedro sent Mirabel to soften Alma’s heart, breathing new life into a family broken by trauma. Together, they return to Encanto. The townspeople gather to build a foundation upon trust and compassion. And we finally witness Mirabel’s power: bringing people together and filling the house with love. The film ends with their blurry picture — the best kind, because they reflect the intimacy absent from sanitized photos. Here is mine.
In 2018, I visited Granada — the town my grandparents fled in the 1940s — for the first time. Granada was visited by violence many times in the last century. A recent wave, from 1987 to 2007, included car bombs, displacement and massacre. In fact, my family members stateside asked me not to go. But to see it now, and its Casa de la memoria, is to see resilience in action. These Centros or Casas de la memoria are a powerful reality of our history of violence. If you visit Colombia, please try and visit more than one. My cousin helped design the one in Medellin.
Hi! Marco here. Thanks for tuning in and staying engaged up until this moment. I tell you, reflecting and writing on Encanto was a labor of love. There’s so much to unpack in the film especially for a historian, such as myself, who feels a deep attachment to the topic. I hope you watch it again. I hope you laud all its prizes and nominations. The creative team behind the film did an immense job of translating my country’s culture to the big screen and a mainstream audience. I hope I provided a little context and a little insight. Marco Out.