The movie was released during Halloween, but it was not a scary movie,
instead it was a sweet love story where two guys fell in love with the same girl and both tried their best to win her heart.
And I find it very rare that the movie with the scenes of the graveyard and tombstones actually portrayed gladness, not sadness.
The graveyard was full of vibrant colours, with many adults coming to visit their family members who had passed away, and the children happily playing around and laughing cheerfully. There were bright candles everywhere, and the scene was very warm and the connection between the living and the dead were homely and family-like.
The movie followed the lives of Manolo and Joaquin, the two boys who fought for the heart of the beautiful Maria. They traced very different path, while Manolo became a bull fighter to follow the family’s tradition, Joaquin joined the army, rose through the rank and became a hero. Their positions were very different, but their feelings for Maria were the same, and never changed. Now it’s up to Maria, already grown up to become a charming young woman, to choose who to give her heart.
Sound like a typical love story, and quite a boring one?
Luckily not. There would be nothing interesting, if the story only ended there. But behind the pure, untainted love, there is another layer, another story, a wager between the La Muerte, ruler of the Remember, the underworld where the souls of those who were still remembered stayed, and Xibalba, the ruler of the Forget, the underworld where the souls of those who were no longer remembered, stayed.
Those were two vastly different worlds, one filled with lights and music and happiness, while the other full of darkness and cold and sadness. And the wager was on the two guys, to see who would win the heart of the girl. So it was no longer a simple love story, but the outcome would have great impact on the order of the world. Unfortunately, the guys never knew about that until very much later, and as usual, it was not a really fair game.
The movie had very strong Mexican / Spanish characteristics.
The architecture, the setup, the colour, the music and the characters are distinctively Spanish. They also had Spanish accents. That made it quite different from the normal Disney fairytale, where the colours were pinkish and the characters all looked similar, like being drawn from the same blueprint.
The different drawing style gave the move an interesting edge, and the music was simply awesome. Manolo the bull fighter had a loving heart, and preferring belting out tunes with his guitar to fighting bulls in arena. There was not really a bad guy here, since both Manolo and Joaquin were just pawns in the game between La Muerte and Xibalba, and each of them had own strategy to win the game.
As in almost all other fairytales, the movie had a happy ending, where both guys realised the truth that there was no point for them fighting over the girl, and they joined hand to defeat their real enemy. The order of the world stayed intact, and everyone was happy.
Of course, some of them were disadvantaged, but the overall outcome was still not bad at all. It’s like Zeus still ruling Olympus, and Hades ruling Underworld, like the fact since the beginning. And that is the beauty of fairytales. Somebody gets more, somebody gets less, but nobody gets nothing. A compromise that is happy for everyone.
Overall, it was a feel good movie.
Not so outstanding like Frozen, but got some interesting moments and was a nice introduction to the Spanish culture, which is deemed quite exotic and unfamiliar to most of the viewers, especially those who live in Asia or Australia. The movie was vibrant with strong, hot colours from beginning to end, and full of beautiful music. In fact, the music was so nice that I got impulsed to go to iTunes and purchase the OST shortly after leaving the cinema.
For those who are still not convinced, listen to this song and you will know what I meant: