ENCANTO VIII: Breaking Free & Healing
The climax begins with ceremony in Antonio’s room, flows to Isabela, and culminates in beauty and song. The sisters embrace on the roof, illuminating the candle, but have their excitement defeated by Abuela Alma. Conflict escalates until the home’s collapse. And in destroying the façade, the family finds strength.
Part 1 — Reach out and receive
We encounter Bruno empowered, fully able to pronounce himself. He appears to be the only Madrigal who relies on ceremony to use his powers. And his powers give visions of the future — a practice denigrated under christian repression. Despite this, he draws the circle, lights the candles, grabs the dust.
Thick, brooding green mist emanates. The house appears and fractures — then, Isabela and Mirabel in an embrace. The message is clear: sisterly love may save Casita, if Mirabel overcomes her resentment. Yes, Abuela Alma should see things differently, but Mirabel must do it first.
Bruno reflects to the audience that indigeneity is filled with purpose. Not just visions — he reached out and received.
Part 2 — Let’s try this again
In Isabela’s room, Mirabel struggles. Her apology lacks awareness. Isabela responds, confessing her disinterest in marriage and feelings of guilt toward the family. In her pain, she summons a cactus.
Isabela, amazed, leans into her musical number, daring, challenging herself to create free from perfection. The sisters rise and embrace. Isabela thanks Mirabel, “I owe this all to you”. The cracks recede and the flame grows. Then Abuela Alma arrives in a torrent of anger. The disappointment is palpable, and the first crack echoes. Mirabel announces her truth: that Alma demanded perfection, thus alienating her children and grandchildren. The echoes turn into rumbles and the whole town shakes.
Ahí viene la hojarasca.
Mirabel calls Casita for help reaching the steeple. Camilo and Isabela try reaching it too, but their powers fail. Mirabel grasps the candle just as Casita falls, protecting Mirabel with its last effort. The image of Mirabel, here, perhaps alludes to the gut-wrenching photo of Omayra Sánchez after the 1985 eruption of el Nevado del Ruiz. I posit that Casita saved Mirabel because it knew Mirabel was key to the family’s future. She is rescued but runs off.
Here I heard her name for the first time: Mirabel! The etymology translates to “sees beauty”. They miss her insight into the beauty of the mundane. After all, she encouraged her sisters to live their truths. In the midst of disaster, they need her optimism. They call out, “Maribel!” ‘One who sees beauty! We need you’!
Since seeing the movie, many have called her Maribel, which might be a more popular name. But “Maribel” translates to “beautiful Maria,” in reference to the Madonna. Maribel is a christian name, while Mirabel is secular — suggesting another distinction between christian and Indigenous values in the movie and their respective positions in hierarchy.
The hójarasca creates a large fissure in the mountains, opening Encanto to the world. The release of repressed emotions literally breaking down barriers, making way for vulnerability.
This excerpt comes from series that I wrote in the wake of Disney’s release. The film inspired me to tap into my creativity. Join and subscribe to keep up as I share over the next month.