Día de Los Muertos

By Anna Hayes

The day of the dead is a day to remember family that has passed away, but also to bring the living family together. Most people are familiar with the holiday because of movies. I wanted to use today to look at how 3 movies in particular capture the traditions of Día de Los Muertos.

First is a short film from 2013 titled: “Día de Los Muertos.” This story follows a young girl who is visiting her late mother’s grave. This short film shows the true meaning of the celebrations: taking a couple moments to remember our families past and helping them on their journey. This is the most simple of the three movies. It only shows the mother’s grave and then the festivities in the afterlife. While this film is simple and short, it is a heartwarming story that captures the basic traditions of Día de Los Muertos.

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The second movie is “The Book of Life” (2014). While this movie has the most of Mexican folklore and mythology, it lacks in emotion as opposed to “Dia de Los Muertos” and “Coco”, which we will later discuss. It mostly focuses on a love triangle instead of family, which is the center of the holiday. However, this film gives the most detail of the holiday concerning the fates of the deceased; some enjoy the afterlife’s never-ending fiesta, while others who are forgotten go to “the land of the forgotten.” While it may lack the emotional storyline that the other two films have, it is a gorgeous film that has a more detailed look at the holiday’s traditional beliefs.

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And of course this discussion wouldn’t be complete without taking a look at Disney’s “Coco” (2018).

This film is my favorite out of all three. With it being a Disney film, it’s given all the magic a film needs- the visuals are stunning, the storyline is emotional, and the film stays true to the themes of Día de Los Muertos. Out of the three films Coco is the only one to show the families ofrenda, which is a table with family portraits, food, water, and other items one might need to their “journey to the spirit world.” The ofrenda is a staple to the holiday because some family members may not have a grave to visit, such as soldiers. Ofrendas allow families without graves for  certain members to remember and honor the deceased within the home.

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All three movies give a good representation of Día de Los Muertos and each show different aspects of the traditions. In the short film Día de Los Muertos, a simple yet sweet representation of the holiday is told showing a daughter at her mother’s grave. In The Book of Life, the story has a fun storyline that shows some of the more traditional Mexican folklore. While Coco, is true to the traditional themes of the holiday the family.

If you would like to watch any of these Día de los muertos films here is where they are available:

Día de los muertos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v4-1wFEzM0&t=10s

The Book of life: For rent on Amazon, iTunes, and Youtube. Or you can watch it for free on youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbJnwUtv9eM

Coco: Is on Netflix and the same rental options as listed above Amazon, iTunes, and Youtube.

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¡Feliz viendo y feliz día de los muertos!