Coco: Pixar’s Most Catholic Movie

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I realize that I’m late to the Coco party. However, with Divine Mercy Sunday around the corner, I decided that this would be a #FlashbackFriday type of review. I honestly think that Coco is the most Catholic movie that Pixar ever made and I’m not just saying that because the movie is inspired by Mexican culture. What makes this movie Catholic are the themes: family, forgiveness, and never forgetting to honor the dead.

Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen this movie yet. I highly recommend at least renting the movie. It’s available on Redbox. It’s definitely worth a watch.

The emphasis on being loyal to one’s family is established early on in the movie. It’s clear from the beginning that Miguel loves his family, in spite of the fact that his abeulita tries to keep music from their lives a little too much. Miguel is especially close to his great-grandmother Coco.

Side note, but I think this is the first Disney/Pixar movie to feature an entire family unit. Both of Miguel’s parents are alive and aside from the relatives who are living in the land of the dead, nobody in Hector’s family gets killed off. Not only that, but you see a family working and living together.

The conflict that drives the movie is Miguel’s desire to pursue music, even if it means ignoring or even outright cutting himself off from his family. It’s clear that he’s a great musician and for a while, it feels as though his family takes the anti-music stance way too far, especially when Miguel’s abuelita destroys his guitar. However, the events of this movie show Miguel that it’s important to stay connected to your family, especially when he learns that Ernesto got his fame by murdering his songwriter friend Hector.

I love the character of Hector, by the way. The movie does a great job at making you suspicious of Hector at first, but he slowly becomes more endearing, especially when he encourages Miguel and shows that he cares for him and is protective of him, even though Miguel is just a stranger.

The theme of remembering the dead is what drives the subplot of the movie: Hector wants to visit his daughter and be remembered or else he will disappear into oblivion. It’s never said where the souls of the forgotten go after the “Final Death,” but it compels the audience to take on a very Catholic tradition: to pray for those who have no one to pray for. In that way, no soul is ever really forgotten.

On a similar note, the land of the dead really reminds me of Purgatory, final death thing put aside. It’s not exactly heaven, given that a murderer like Ernesto is living there, but it’s not Hell, either. It’s a place for departed souls to live and there’s still a link to those who are living, even if it’s just one day a year.

One good thing that came out of the broken pedestal experience though is that Miguel finds out that Hector is his real great-great-grandfather. This leads into the second Catholic theme of the movie, which focuses on forgiveness. When Miguel and Hector are reunited with Miguel’s deceased relatives towards the end of the second act, his great-great grandmother Imelda is reluctant to forgive Hector for leaving her.

What makes the relationship with Hector and Imelda interesting is that Imelda never remarried. She cut Hector and her love for music out of her life, even though she loved both very much. When she confronts Ernesto, she berates and hits Ernesto for “murdering the love of my life.” In classical tsundere fashion, she still claims to be mad at Hector, but she at least loves Hector enough to know that he doesn’t deserve to be forgotten.

I love that forgiveness is shown to be a process. Imelda goes from hating Hector to defending him to finally allowing him to be in her life and her family. This is shown in the climax, when Miguel has to return to the land of the living. At the start of the movie, Imelda wants Miguel to promise her to never pursue music again when he returns to the land of the living. In the second attempt to get Miguel back, Miguel is actually willing to make good on that condition. The third attempt, however, is made with no conditions. Just the type of selfless love that seriously has me reaching for the tissues.

The two themes of family and forgiveness get tied together in what I feel is my favorite scene: Miguel plays “Remember Me” for Coco in front of his family. His abuelita tries to stop him, but his father allows Miguel to play. The song restores Coco’s memory and allows her to tell everyone in her family about all the mementos she kept from her father and how her parents both loved music.

One year later, Miguel’s deceased relatives, Hector and Coco included, get to spend time with the living on the Day of the Dead. Miguel and his family join in on a song and it’s shown that Hector is playing along with him. All is forgiven and music has returned to the lives of the Rivera family. I love the ending of this movie because it shows that pursuing one’s passion should never come at the expense of family.

One last side note: I love the animal sidekicks in this movie, especially Dante the Xolo dog. He’s a lot like Scooby-Doo in that he seems so goofy and is kinda cute even if he’s a hairless street dog, but he is also foreshadowed to be a true guide in the land of the dead, instinctively throwing Hector and Miguel together a lot. Plus, the name is very fitting as those familiar with The Divine Comedy or at least Inferno recognize the name from the protagonist of those stories, who literally goes through a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.

This movie isn’t just great to watch for the Day of the Dead. It’s one I recommend watching for Lent and even now, in the Easter season.

Pray for the souls of those who’ve died, especially those who have no one to pray for.

 

Best Book Related Memories

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For a bit of #FlashbackFriday fun, I want to join in on the “Best Book Related Memories” tag. The rules of the game: list 3 of your favorite memories that relate to books, whether it means reading a book, writing a book, or just has anything to do with books in general.

Thanks to Jenna Moreci for tagging me (and all her other viewers).

  1. My first real “short story.” For the longest time, ever since I had internet access, I wrote fanfiction. Really, really, really bad fanfiction. But then I decided to write what is called a “song fic” to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” because basically, everyone was doing it and created original characters to fit the story of the song. When I printed out the first version of this short story, I marveled at how many pages I wrote. This “short story,” dear friends, was what inspired me to want to write a novel. It eventually led to the creation of Jack, Lorelei, Kira, Travis, and Evelyn. You will be meeting them in my Tales of the Vocati series. It took me a long time to find the right story for these characters.
  2. How I got into Jane Austen. The way I got into Jane Austen wasn’t through watching Becoming Jane or reading one of her books, although when I was a kid, I saw episodes of Wishbone that adapted a few of her novels. No, it was through a biography: Emily Auerbach’s Searching For Jane Austen. It was in my high school library. It’s not an easy biography to find, but to me, it fascinated me that someone tried to understand a writer based on the works they wrote. It’s a modern way to figure out a person and it doesn’t always apply to every writer, but I liked the idea of Jane being more than just someone who wrote romantic stories. There was some real depth to them. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, I highly recommend reading this biography.
  3. Sci-fi Meets Classic Literature I don’t usually read sci-fi as a genre. I am tired of dystopias and stories of corrupt governments oppressing everyone. For me, fiction is about escapism and getting to know characters on a personal level. Then I read the Jane E trilogy by Erin McCole Cupp. Die-hard Jane Austen fans like myself will tell you that most of the time, fans of classic literature will either pick Austen or the Bronte Sisters for their favorite 19th Century female writer. That particular disagreement applies to me and my best friend. The ironic thing is that in spite of having Asperger’s Syndrome, I can understand the witty ironies and sarcasm in Jane Austen’s prose whereas my neurotypical best friend can’t. In contrast, my best friend doesn’t consider herself a romantic, but really loves Jane Eyre. I love the character of Jane Eyre, but hate Rochester with every fiber of my being. It took reading this trilogy for my best friend and me to find something we agree on in terms of Jane Eyre. The classic heroine is a lot more active in this version, Rochester is somewhat more sympathetic and likeable, and the themes of integrity ring truer here than in the original version.

Share your favorite book-related memories in the comments.

 

7 Quick Takes: Pope Francis In Pictures

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Since I talked about Saint John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict yesterday, it’s only fair that I put Pope Francis in the limelight today.

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Aleteia shared this wonderful video from Pope Francis’s General Audience a few days ago. One can’t help but recall how Jesus went to visit the daughter of Jairus. I pray that this girl will receive great blessings and healing.

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Fellow Pope Francis fangirl Ana Plumlee shared me this article from the BBC about giving the priests from Missionaries of Mercy special license to forgive sins usually reserved to the Holy See. According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said these priests will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”

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From The Catholic Rose:

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Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine!

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From Verily Magazine:

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From Catholic News Service:

POPE PLANE CUBA MEXICO

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EWTN shared that on the plane to Cuba, Pope Francis offered a special blessing to Mother Angelica.

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And in keeping up with the usual social media #FlashbackFriday tradition, check out The Catholic Apologist’s hilarious reaction to Pope Francis’s election:

Lent Day 3: Broken, Refined, Polished, Restored

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lent Reflection today compared humanity as diamonds covered in the muck of sin. This reminds me of a verse from Malachi 3:3

He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.

Life is never an easy road. There are times that break us, times that test us, and times that heal us.

Today, I will post about a time that broke me.

This post is gonna get personal, so bear with me. I posted something about this in my first blog entry, but tonight, I’m gonna tell you about what happened in detail.

WARNING: If you have any emotional triggers tied to emotional abuse or manipulative and toxic friendships, please skip  to the end of the post which will have a cute picture of where I ate lunch today.

Back when I was in college, I had a friend whom I will call Narcissus Vanitas or NV for short. NV was the complete opposite of me, but he (using “he” as a gender-neutral pronoun) was there for me during a time that I really needed a friend. During my last two years of college, NV became my best friend and I helped him out during his own hard times.

However, last year things took a dark turn. Without even noticing, NV became codependent. He called me a lot, but I just thought it was just because we were helping each other with our writing. My subconscious started noticing that things were off, though, because whenever I wrote poetry, I wrote about having to leave a friend or feeling like I was being stabbed in the back.

It turned out that my intuition was right. NV wanted me for himself in the worst way. His constant calls were a way of isolating me from my family. He wanted me to change my name and all of my e-mails and cut myself off from my friends. Things went too far on March 7th, 2013 when he told me that he wanted to take my innocence. I was caught in the illusion, but my family staged an intervention and took my phone away before things could get worse.

At first, I was seriously defensive of NV until my parents gave me some perspective about the situation. I called NV for the last time that night, trying my best to try and cut things off without making it seem like my parents were making me say what I needed to say. But in the end, silence was the best answer I had to give him.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with cutting myself off from my now former best friend. But when I went to sleep that night, I dreamt of something. I saw myself at the cross, trying to hold onto it. Then NV appeared from out of nowhere and dragged me away from the cross. I kicked and screamed, telling him to let me go.

Ultimately, it was that dream that made me realize that my friend was leading me away from God, trying to hide it under the illusion of this whole “us against the world” complex that NV had.

At that point, I was broken. (Listen to Matt Maher’s “Empty and Beautiful” and you pretty much got how I felt during this time.) It took months for me to get myself together. I found new friends in places I never knew, found a strong support system through my family, and now, a year later, I can say that I have been restored.

As for what I wish I could’ve told NV, to quote my favorite character from Once Upon a Time…

YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE WHAT I DO OR HOW I FEEL, I DO!

Also Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” because NV hates Taylor Swift. Yes, I’m immature.

Have a drink from In-N-Out, where I ate today. On me.

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