One of the bigger surprises at the giant D23 animation panel (that covered both Disney and Disney•Pixar films) was the unveiling of the new Disney•Pixar film Coco. Now some of you might remember this project as being the previously untitled animated feature that centers on the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos. But not a lot was known about the project (including, of course, its official title). Well, after today, we know a little bit more, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Disney•Pixar films have always been based about captivating high concepts, and Coco is no different. This new film is directed by longtime Pixar stalwart (and Toy Story 3 filmmaker) Lee Unkrich and produced by Darla Anderson, and hearing Unkrich talk about it, it was a unique idea first that evolved into something much more emotional and personal.
“I’d seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination,” Unkrich explained. But then, like most Disney•Pixar films, it took an unexpected turn. “It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Dia De Los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply. “
In the process of making the movie, he began to think about his relatives, including the ones who had passed away before he was able to get to know them. “I thought – what if I could meet them, what would I ask them?”
The main character in the film is a spirited 12-year-old boy named Miguel, who somehow finds himself in the fantastical realm of dead. After the brief explanation, Unkrich and Anderson treated the D23 attendees with a “diorama,” meant to express the general feeling of Coco (even though the designs might change dramatically before the movie is done). This “diorama” was incredible and visualized as a single shot moving through the mortal version of Dia de los Muertos, with people celebrating and lighting candles for the family members who have passed on, and moving into the uproarious landscape of the dead. This is where things really take off, with skeleton mariachi bands, colorful designs, and lots and lots of fun. John Lasseter described it as “breathtaking, beautiful and fun,” and based on the diorama presented, we couldn’t agree more.