ENCANTO’ AND THE PERFECT FAMILY TROPE
By definition, the word-perfect means ‘having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be’ but in reality perfect doesn't exist. Perfect exists in neither our lives nor in people and subsequently, it doesn't exist in families either.
The perfect family is supposed to be a nuclear family which works well together in harmony like a well-oiled machine, but no family is perfect. We all have our flaws and different personalities, hence when those mix into one family there are bound to be struggles, fights, and flaws. A recent movie that shed light on the flaws of the family was ‘Encanto’.
‘Encanto’ follows the storyline of the magical madrigal family, led by their matriarch ‘Abuela Alma Madrigal’. According to Walt Disney Animation Studios, ‘Encanto tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charming place called an Encanto’. The magic of the ‘Encanto’ has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal-every child except one, ‘Mirabel’. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the ‘Encanto’ is in danger, ‘Mirabel’ decides that she, the only ordinary ‘Madrigal’, might just be her exceptional family's last hope.'
While ‘Encanto’ has a lot of different themes and especially is a movie that gives Latin representation throughout its themes, music, and cultural representation. Another thing we see a lot of in the movie is how the madrigals start as being the perfect family, but throughout the movie we see that illusion break.
THE UNWANTED ONES:
The ‘Madrigal’ family comes with a lot of expectations towards all the members and Abuela in some form has prejudice toward one of the children of the family ‘Mirabel’. ‘Mirabel’ is the only child of the family who doesn't have any powers, making her the odd one out. Every member of the ‘Madrigal’ family plays a role in their village and because ‘Mirabel’ doesn't have any powers she doesn't have any roles resulting in her not being as important. Being the oddball, she is constantly in the shadows and is undermined by Abuela many times throughout the film.
In normal families, there is always one person who is not seen as the most bright or isn't as successful, and they are the underdogs of the family. They are loved in their families but in some way, they are also looked down on and are constantly compared to their cousins or other siblings. These children of the family can at times feel discouraged or rebel to prove their point to gain attention.
But in this equation, ‘Mirabel’ isn't the only unwanted one. Her uncle ‘Bruno’ was also unwanted and left the family entirely due to the way he was treated. ‘Bruno’ is one of the three triplets of Abuela and was gifted with the power of telling the future but instead of his power being appreciated he was villainized by the whole community causing him to run away, ‘Bruno’ may fit the ideal of the family with his powers, but he never did with his personality and actions which caused him to be the oddball in his family.
Similarly, sometimes even when we are well settled and successful but if we do things that don't align with family traditions or are not like that of our siblings and cousins can be seen as an oddball as well. These behaviors can cause members of the family to feel left out, as if they don't matter as much.
THE PERFECT ONES:
In the Madrigal clan, there is also another aspect that they talked about, which is the pressure felt by the perfect children’. In this family, the two children who felt the most pressure were ‘Isabella’ and ‘Luisa’. ‘Isabella’ has the power of growing flowers and is the literal definition of perfect. She is beautiful, she is polite, she is responsible, and is the favorite of Abuela because she is the hope of the family. ‘Isabela’ is well-loved and constantly praised, but there are also many expectations of her constantly, such as the fact that she is' expected to marry ‘Mariano’ and have kids to further strengthen the lineage of magic.
On the other hand, there is ‘Luisa’ who is gifted with super strength and is given a lot of responsibility. She is also the eldest, which adds to her responsibilities and overall treatment. Her song’Surface pressure' in the movie is a great representation of how people can look tough and strong, but at times they could be in a bad mental space. Both ‘Luisa’ and ‘Isabella’ are in a better mental space when they let go of the expectations their Abuela has of them and do what they want to do in the way they want to do it.
‘Encanto’ was a breakthrough for many reasons but the way it represented family and family expectations broke norms and was relatable for many, even for us people in our Desi culture we could also relate to the family values and problems to some extent. This type of representation is new in mainstream cinema and is helpful to our generation in being able to relate. Movies like ‘Encanto’ also teach us that families can be weird and dysfunctional, but they are our families nonetheless. Sometimes families can be problematic, and it can cause us a lot of hardship, ‘Encanto’ also teaches us that at times we need to separate ourselves, but second chances aren't always a bad thing.
This movie is fun and entertaining as well as relatable. This family fix teaches us about how no family is perfect and being perfect is overrated. Healthy relationships lie in imperfect relationships and goofy relations between one another. It's about being healthy and working together as one, rather than about appearances.