I’m not going to summarize the Disney movie Encanto. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand my references to the characters. If you haven’t seen the movie, please take the time to watch it…many times. Encanto is a movie with layers that requires multiple viewings.
My general definition of the word bridge is anything that connects something to another something. In Encanto, Mirabel is the metaphorical bridge that connects the Madrigal family’s past—heritage, tradition, firmly held beliefs—to the future of the possibilities that can only happen through change that breaks (or at the least, alters) those firmly entrenched family habits and beliefs.
Fifteen-year-old Mirabel confronts her pain and suppressed anger that she has kept bottled up inside her for ten years. She can no longer contain or deny her disappointment at not receiving a magical gift when she was five years old after graciously supporting her beloved five-year-old cousin Antonio during his magical gift-receiving ceremony. As she watches from the sideline, ignored by the family, she finally admits to herself how hurt and disappointed she’s been for the last ten years at being the only Madrigal without a magical gift.
This is the bridge moment. She confronts her anger, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy. She sings: I’m not fine. I’m not fine. She asks for help. She verbalizes her readiness to take on any challenge in order to be a valued member of the family.
Who I am inside
So what can I do?
I’m sick on waiting on a miracle
So here I go
I am ready!
Come on, I’m ready!
I’ve been patient and steadfast and steady!
Bless me now as you blessed us all those years ago
When you gave us a miracle
Am I too late for a miracle?
At this moment, Mirabel takes control of her emotions and her deepest wishes, and the magical Casita responds, which, by the way, is the embodiment of the spirt of her deceased grandfather.
The house, the magic within the house, was stagnating and decaying from within, hence the ugliness within the walls of the otherwise beautiful-on-the-outside house. The façade of the outward appearance hid the growing cancer inside, which was the grandmother’s matriarchal chokehold on the family members. The house was rotting from within, which is what happens with dysfunction in a family. It can only be hidden so long before it seeps though and can’t be denied.
The magic of the house reached the complete breaking point, because the grandmother (Abuela Alma) was bartering her granddaughter, Isabella, to a man for the good of the family with no consideration whatsoever to Isabella’s feelings. Isabella, like the others, had been indoctrinated from birth to put personal wants and feelings aside for the good of the family aka whatever Abuela wants, Abuela gets. Abuela had forgotten, probably repressed, her memories of marrying the love of her life, and she was denying Isabella the opportunity to marry for love. It was no coincidence that the house experienced a severe foundational fracture during Isabella’s marriage proposal scene.
Abuela Alma no longer held love, real love, in her heart. She was only concerned with appearances. To her credit, though, she asked the grandfather’s spirt (Abuelo Pedro) to open her eyes to the problem and send a solution.
He did, and he had.
Mirabel was the bridge between the past and the future to open her grandmother’s eyes. Mirabel helped Isabella confront her anger at living under Abuela’s ‘perfect grandchild’ expectations, which was an important ‘bridge’ between living up to familial responsibilities yet finding your own worth in the family dynamics and sticking up for what you want.
Mirabel, in confronting her grandmother, was the bridge upon which change and healing could happen to allow the entire family to move forward, put the past in the past without forgetting here they came from, and finally embrace the future in the spirit of what is best for the family Madrigal and not just for Abuela Alma.
Since the day she was born, the family’s salvation was Mirabel. it simply took fifteen years for the grandfather’s spirit to judge the time was right for Mirabel to step into the role she was born for…to take on the matriarchal role in the family after Abuela Alma was finally able to ‘open her eyes’ to the gift that was Mirabel herself.
Until next time,
writing through history one romance upon a time