Songwriting

Disney’s Encanto: stunning songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda and the studio’s most famous heroine to date

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 60th feature film, Encanto, is a magical adventure starring original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda that aims to be an absolute spectacle. Premiering in theaters on November 24, right in the middle of Thanksgiving week in the United States, Encanto seeks to wow and delight the whole family with a heartfelt, star-studded story of – finally – a whole family!

Set in Colombia, which is home to both magical realism and one of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, the film tells the story of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains, in a magical house. , in a wonderful and charming place called an Encanto. The magic of Encanto blessed every child in the family with a unique gift ranging from super strength to the power to heal – every child except one, Mirabel (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Stephanie Beatriz from In the Heights). But when Mirabel discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, she decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might be her family’s only hope.

Directed by Byron Howard (Zootopia, Tangled), Jared Bush (Moana, Zootopia) and Charise Castro Smith, Encanto takes the animated musical to another level, telling a story with a really big set, each character with their own unique personality, dimensions , and unique qualities. Speaking to the press, Howard explained how Lin-Manuel Miranda was an integral part of the whole project. “I did Tangled. Jared wrote Moana. And we knew that if we wanted to take a new approach to musicals, we were going to have to work with the best. And luckily on Moana Jared worked with it. [Miranda]. So we took a look at a large and extended family and how these complex dynamics actually work. And it has become an exciting challenge for us. “

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s songs

Speaking to IGN, co-director Charise Castro Smith explained how Miranda’s songs have helped them all see characters in new ways they never envisioned. “There are eight original songs in this movie that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and they are each breathtaking in their own right,” she shared. “It was such a joy to collaborate with him on this. Jared and I were creating the script, coming up with ideas and bouncing them back to him and when we were working out the moments of the song in the story, we would pass them on to him. and he would write amazing songs that would then inform the characters throughout the movie. It would help shape the story. He was a huge partner to us from the start and a very close collaborator with us throughout. throughout the process. “

Director Jared Bush further discussed how the songs worked to deepen a character. Regarding a song called “Surface Pressure,” sung by Mirabel’s super-strong sister Luisa (Jessica Darrow), Howard told IGN that Miranda’s lyrics give Luisa more depth.

“I think we knew very early on that we had this sister who is incredibly strong and who had all these responsibilities, but what [Miranda] added to that song, which really informed her character and changed her, was that notion of that responsibility being so difficult and how behind the scenes with her it was, ”said Bush.“ And I think so. that he looked at his own family for this, and to give a voice to that. It is a responsibility that some people take, thankfully, but it takes its toll. And then knowing that with this character really anchored her. She’s a fun, comedic, and broad character, but having that rooted soul really changed the way we saw her as she progressed through the script. “

Disney Encanto Images

One of Encanto’s animation managers, Kira Lehtomaki, broke down part of the animation process for these very large and complex musical numbers.

“Lin’s songs were a total joy,” she told IGN, “but it was also one of the hardest things for us to animate. Because it’s not just the musicality, which means that the characters have to dance and move to the beat and rhythm – so there is a constraint and a technicality there – but also with Lin’s songs you have very fast lyrics, and get this lip synchronization and correct breathing was difficult. “

“We wanted to make sure everything was correct, so we had a lot of people to help us,” she continued. “We had professional singers talking about their performance on stage. Choreographers came. The directors even wrote monologues about what each of the characters thought and felt during the songs, and they gave them to Lin to help them inspire. him when he was writing the lyrics to the songs. Then once we got Lin’s demos, we were able to hire our choreographer, Jamal Sims, and then our dance consultant, Kai Martinez, almost immediately.

Mirabel, the relatable and imperfect heroine

Encanto showcases the voice (and singing) talents of Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, John Leguizamo, Angie Cepeda, Rhenzy Feliz, and more, but it’s Beatriz’s Mirabel that the directors believe audiences will fall in love with the most.

“The movies we worked on just before that – Zootopia and Moana – both had female characters central to them,” Bush told IGN, “but for me it’s actually really exciting to be at the center of this revolution where Mirabel is unlike any character we have ever put on screen before. “

“She’s incredibly human,” added Bush. “She’s super flawed and she’s flawed and weird and she’s wrong, and she keeps trying in a way that isn’t always the best. Which I really really like about her. What Stephanie is doing. [Beatriz] was able to do with Mirabel was absolutely nuts. She improvised a lot of what you hear on screen. She has to sing a lot in this movie, both alone and with other characters, but for me, I think her unique personality is going to be something that a lot of people can relate to. “

Disney’s Encanto: Visual Development and Concept Art

Relativity was the key word here, with the creation of Mirabel. “When I first started animating I was in college,” Howard explained, “and I saw The Little Mermaid for the first time and for me, Ariel kind of gave a new life to Disney heroines. ”She felt like a great step up storytelling because she felt like people I knew. Whereas before, with the characters in the movies, I would say “I love them”, but this new kind of relationship was huge with Ariel. And I think that with Mirabel, she is, from the start, someone in your family who is very accessible. She is an outsider who feels they are not worthy. I think we all feel that and for me that was the key. “

Disney’s Encanto, along with Disney’s new short Far From the Tree, hits theaters in the US on November 24, 2021. Review all the great movies that will debut in the next few months by checking out the IGN Movie Guide from Fall 2021.


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