Monday, August 24, 2015

'Coco' Officially Unveiled at D23 Expo

One of the most exciting parts of last week's D23 Expo was arguably when Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3, and Darla K. Anderson, producer of Toy Story 3, walked on stage during the expo's animation panel to introduce their latest film; Coco. The film will center on a 12-year-old boy named Miguel and delve into the colorful world surrounding the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Early concept art from 2012

Though the film was announced back in 2012, we had heard virtually nothing about the project since, leading many to believe that the film had perhaps been shelved. All fears of that being the case, however, were struck down last week when Pixar officially unveiled the film, and its title, to the world.

This was my reaction upon hearing the good news:

A clip featuring some test animation was shown for attendees of the expo. The scene starts in a graveyard with people paying their respects to those who have passed away before jumping to a vibrant street populated by singing and dancing skeletons. A skeleton mariachi band appears; one of its members, it turns out, is the film's protagonist, Miguel, in disguise. The clip ends with an aerial shot of the colorful streets where the celebration is taking place, which from the shape of a skull.

Unkrich and Anderson also talked briefly about the film and the themes it will explore, as well as the inspiration behind the project.

"I'd seen it portrayed in folk art," said Unkrich of Día de los Muertos. "It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Día de los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply."

Though they certainly found the iconic visuals of Día de los Muertos incredibly appealing, Unkrich and Anderson explained that, above all, "it was the celebration's core themes of family, remembrance and connection across generations that resonated within and truly inspired [them]." They explained how "Día de los Muertos is as singular as the Mexican culture, while at the same time completely universal in its message."

The two went on to talk about the film's story, in which "the celebration of Día de los Muertos serves as the perfect backdrop for [the] main character to ask where he comes from, what his place is within his family, and how families stay woven together across time through the simple act of remembrance."

This is still very little information to go off of, but I am already sold. Not only will Coco be undoubtedly breathtaking to look at, but it already sounds like it will touch on some very powerful and emotional motifs.

Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson introduce Miguel (Photo credit: Inside the Magic)

Since the announcement last week, many have noted the peculiar nature of the film's title. What does "Coco" mean?

"El Coco" is, in fact, a mythical monster, much like the bogeyman, derived from Hispanic folklore. Given the new film's theme, this could very much be what the title alludes to. Perhaps the story will tie "el Coco" to Día de los Muertos somehow. Coincidentally, the word "coco" is also a word for "skull" in Spanish. Skulls, of course, are prominent in the Día de los Muertos holiday. The title could be referring to either of these two meanings, if not both. Though Coco won't hit theatres for another two years, we may learn more about why this particular title was chosen as the film's release date draws closer.

This may just be the Pixar film I am most excited for as of right now. It may be a while before we hear anything new about Coco given that it is currently scheduled for November 22, 2017, but stay tuned.

1 comment:

Bel said...

I’m ecstatic for all of Pixar’s upcoming projects, but to hear that this one is back on the map after a long period of silence is thrilling; Coco is, without a doubt, the Pixar film I am most looking forward to (at least at the moment!) I can’t wait to see the undeniable brilliance they will bring to this concept and how they will portray and incorporate the colorful, beautiful holiday of Día de los Muertos into the plot.