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Remember Me: Coco and my Día de Muertos

Alexis Ibarra-Ibarra

Even if I love Halloween, candy, and costumes, I have to tell you that I love Day of the Death the most. I am utterly in love with Día de Muertos (Oct. 28 to Nov. 2, being the night of Nov. 1 and the early morning of Nov. 2 the most important times [and Nov 3rd. because it’s my birthday!]). I ADORE this Mexican tradition, like you have no idea!

I spend a lot of time and effort designing and creating each year’s altar, offering, flowers, and dinner-party with my family and ancestors. Día de Muertos is way different than Halloween since you are not trying to scare the evil spirits: you are inviting the spirits of your loved ones to share dinner with you and your family.

Día de muertos is so important to me that I managed to make this Altar in Japan. ❤

When the flame of the candles and the Papel Picado move with the music, I know my ancestors are dancing and having fun. I miss my grandparents so very much, so this celebration helps me cope with those feelings. Moreover, this season also makes me feel closer to my roots. Sometimes, I feel alone in this world, but not that day. That day, I feel like I belong to something bigger: I belong to a big family, not just my nuclear one.

We prepare and eat Mexican food and remember those that have left us behind, but that once a year, during this season, come back to visit us and spend a good time in the land of the living. My family eats green, red, and mole tamales, as well as hot chocolate and Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead). However, you can eat a lot of different Mexican dishes and beverages (like Atole, Tequila, Mezcal, Pulque, etc.).

There have been a few attempts to make a good “Day of the Dead” animated movies, but I actually think Pixar has produced the best one so far: Coco (Pixar, 2017) or, in some places, Remember Me. The team researched a lot about Mexico and its traditions (they spent a year travelling and experiencing the country), so it depicts our country faithfully. Ironically, most Mexican animated movies about Día de Muertos are pretty lousy in terms of animation and STORY. Some of them even fall into these crazy and hideous stereotypes about Mexico!

I lost my grandmother two years ago, and it still hurts, so obviously, I sob so hard during the very touching scene at the end of the movie… T.T

A lot of foreigners will miss most of the details in Coco, so they probably won’t understand why it is sooooooo good. The story is just so moving (it made me cry for an hour straight), and the music “can’t be forgotten” (just remember the song Remember Me). However, way beyond that, every single thing in the movie is part of the Mexican culture, even the tiniest detail. I have to admit that I don’t like placing pictures on my altar, since I think it is more inclusive and invites a broader audience (of my loved ones and ancestors) to attend the party :P. So, in a way, a big part of the plot of Coco is “meaningless” for me XD.

Anyway, if you think that in this movie the floor is just the floor, a rock is just a rock, a sandal is just a sandal, a graveyard is just a graveyard, a town is just a town, a dress is just a dress, you are wrong! I am not blaming anyone or trying to shame foreigners, I understand trying to fully comprehend another culture is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because of our cultural background (even if we try hard).

So much attention to detail! ❤.

Besides, watching something on a screen without living in the country will make it really hard to spot and understand the details, especially if you are not familiarized with the culture being portrayed. Just keep in mind that Coco is way more profound than you think, so it totally deserved the Oscar. As I read somewhere, “Coco is a love letter from Pixar to Mexico”. ❤.

PS: I really don’t understand the Spanish that complained about Pixar not dubbing the movie to Spanish from Spain… I mean… it’s a Mexican story, and they can totally understand Mexican SPANISH!

Do you like Día de Muertos? Have you heard about it before? Did you watch Coco? Please leave a slice of your opinion at the Comment Section below! As a baker, I am always thrilled to read you! ❤

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“Altares de muertos” images by Alexis Ibarra-Ibarra.

“Miguel and Coco” image taken from Alto Nivel.

“Altar in Coco” image taken from Milenio.

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