By Apolonia Ruvalcaba (Yuma, Arizona, USA)
The only thing I enjoy more than a date to the movies is a date to a good movie. This Thursday night, I joined my girlfriend and an old high school friend to watch Guillermo Del Torro’s newest released film: The Book of Life.
The tip of the story was a bit cliché: A love triangle with two childhood friends going against each other to impress and win over their shared love interest. Yet as the story progressed, it became a more vibrant fantasy-adventure, and I fell in love with each character more and more.
Each character was his/her very own, even the minor and filler characters. They all had their different hair style, different body types and even parts and bits of their individual stories were shared when they talked a bit about their family members and about something they had done the other day. No two characters were the same except for a set of twins that were introduced later in the story. Our two heroes were a bit similar in body type, but I can forgive that for making clear the “I’m the Hero” look. Other than that, both were very different in character and the things they fought for.
The animation was beautiful and very different from what has been seen in the latest animation works. It was a very nice change from Disney princesses and any other 3D animation. Each screen cap was filled with bright colors and shapes. The characters looked more like wooden dolls, but that didn’t limit the shape of each of them. There was also a lot of symbolism in the background if you paid attention and knew more about the culture that inspired it.
Speaking of the culture that inspired it, I love that we got to see a movie that put aside the white male hero. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy those movies too, but seeing how Hispanic culture has been given more chances to show itself in American cinema makes me feel very proud, and I’m happy that our stories are being told and appreciated, especially when it’s a story that is old and traditional. That plus representation counts!
El Dia de Los Muertos, the day the movie is set around, is a day that Mexicans and other Hispanics are known for celebrating greatly. It is the very opposite of Halloween because instead of trying to hide or scare spirits away, you invite them into your home and celebrate life and the lives that once were. The movie does a great job explaining it at the beginning and is sure to keep it short but clear for those who are not too familiar with the holiday.
The Book of Life was released on October 17th and has made 60% back of its funds. A lot of people have been giving it crud for being “racist” and find no interest in a Mexican oriented-story. It makes me sad that people would say such things, and I just don’t see the points that were given. It’s a story written by a Mexican, about a Mexican story with Mexican voice-actors. I see no reason to make such a comment and as to the story, yes, it is a Mexican story, and if the origin of the story upsets other viewers then I don’t know what to tell them. It’s so easy for some people to throw a fit because a story comes from another culture, yet they won’t bat an eyelash when people this Halloween paint their faces like the Catrina, a sugar skull or even dress up as another race for pure humor.
It is part of my culture to show it off, be proud of it, and teach other about it. For the greatest part of it is to share it. So allow me to share this story and wonderful movie. Next time you go out to the movies, check out The Book of Life. Enjoy your pop-corn and a traditional story with a nice twist.