BY STEVE FISHER
“DESPITE HIS family’s
generations-old ban on
music, Miguel dreams
of becoming an accom-
plished musician like
his idol, Ernesto de la
Cruz. Desperate to
prove his talent, Miguel
finds himself in the
stunning and colorful Land of the Dead
following a mysterious chain of events.”
That’s from the official description of
Disney/Pixar’s Coco, which has earned
multiple awards, including the Golden
Globe for Best Motion Picture–Animated,
and Academy Award nominations for best
song and best animated feature film.
When I sat down to watch the film
(which took more than six years to produce) in preparation for interviewing Lee
Unkrich, the director, I wasn’t prepared
for the total enchantment, the inventiveness of the visuals, the charm of the characters and the poignancy of the story.
Unkrich—who directed Toy Story ; and
co-directed Toy Story ;, Monsters, Inc. and
Finding Nemo—was able to shed light on
how the people behind the movie achieved
THE COSTCO CONNECTION: How did the
idea for Coco come about?
Lee Unkrich: I had long been interested in
the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos,
just as a casual observer. I was drawn initially to the iconography of the holiday.
Right after I finished Toy Story ;, I
happened to be down at Epcot with my
family, at Disney World. I was riding this
ride that’s inside the Mexico pavilion, and
I was reminded of my interest in Día de
Muertos, and I realized at that moment
that there had been no film at that point,
live action or animation, that really dove
into the tradition. It’s like a family reunion
that spans the divide between the living
and the dead. That seemed like a poignant
idea to me.
CC: I understand you and many of the
;lm’s creative artists made several trips
to Mexico for research?
LU: The moment I pitched this story and
Pixar gave us the thumbs-up to start developing it, I knew that we had an enormous
responsibility to get it right.
It was the first time Pixar
was making such a culturally
specific film. We knew that
we were going to have to surround ourselves with cultural
advisers and reach out to the
Latino community. But we also
knew that we needed to do a lot
of research. We needed to go
down to Mexico and experience
Día de Muertos firsthand.
So we made several trips and
spent time traveling all around the coun-
try, visiting big cities and small towns and
taking hundreds of thousands of photo-
graphs. But the thing that was most
valuable to me, personally, was the
time that we spent with families.
They very graciously opened their
homes to us and fed us and showed us
how they celebrated the holiday, and
we were able to observe basic family
dynamics. A lot of what we experi-
enced firsthand ended up being
woven into the fabric of the movie.
We couldn’t have made the movie without
having gone down there.
CC: Some people might consider the concept of Día de Muertos, the afterlife and
a violent act toward the end somewhat
dark. How did you approach making it
palatable for all ages?
LU: I don’t know that it was ever a concern.
We always had it in our heads that kids
were going to be a part of our audience, so
we never thought that we were doing anything that was particularly dark or scary.
Death is a part of the movie, even though
the movie’s not about death.
Death is a part of life.
One of the beautiful things
about Día de Muertos is that it
faces death head-on and cele-
brates people’s memories in
this very beautiful way. And
that’s what we really wanted
to celebrate. The movie’s
very much about life and
about family. C
shows family is forever
Scenes from Disney/Pixar’s Coco.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch the trailer for
Coco. (See page 8 for details.)
Coco (Item #1225258) is available in most
warehouses in a Multi-Screen Edition