I don’t know if you, but we’re already in the mood for the Day of the Dead. In addition to the offering, the bread, the sugar skulls and everything that this beautiful Mexican tradition entails, a great way to celebrate this day is with movies so that our children understand what this date involves.
Not everything is Coco! You will love these options.
Movies that portray the tradition of the Day of the Dead
1. The Book of Life (Jorge Gutiérrez, 2014)
Review: On the Day of the Dead, some unruly children go to a museum. There, their guide shows them the Book of Life, which keeps all the stories of the world, including one about Manolo and Joaquín, inseparable childhood friends, who compete for the love of María. Xibalba, the Underworld, bets with La Catrina on who will win Maria’s love.
What to expect: This is one of the films that best portrays the Day of the Dead tradition. It was written and directed by Jorge Gutiérrez, produced by Guillermo del Toro and features the voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldaña, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, among others.
Through very vivid colors, beautiful songs and the love triangle of the protagonists, The Book of Life shows our traditions. From the majestic Catrina, who is the queen of the dead and Xibalba, the king of the forgotten, to the dresses, the flowers and our offerings.
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2. Day of the Dead (Carlos Gutiérrez Medrano, 2019)
Review: Salma, a 16-year-old girl, lives in a town where the spirits return once a year during the Day of the Dead. She is the only one in town who cannot bring anyone because she does not know her whereabouts or identity.
One day she discovers, along with her friends, a clue that leads them down a path to the underworld full of adventures, skulls, ghosts and a mysterious man.
What to expect: After a decade of working on this film, its release had to be postponed in 2017 so as not to compete with Coco.
Finally, in 2019 it came out. The message of this film is that we must miss and honor those who are no longer with us, but also realize how valuable it is to love those we have by our side and sometimes we forget.
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3. To the Bone (René Castillo, 2002)
Review: This short film alludes to death in a funny way. A dying man descends into the world of the dead where he is greeted with a bohemian party by a worm, smiling skulls and Catrina herself sings sensually to him.
After some fun and flirtation, the man discovers that being dead isn’t such a bad thing after all.
What to expect: It was produced by Mexican animator René Castillo Rivera for Ringling College of Art and Design in the United States as a thesis project. It contains very characteristic elements of our culture.
La Catrina is portrayed as an elegant, seductive skull with a beautiful voice. In music, the participation of Eugenia León and Café Tacvba stand out.
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4. The Legend of the Nahuala (Ricardo Arnaiz, 2007)
Review: Leo, an introverted and fearful boy, gathers up the courage to enter Nahuala’s house and rescue his brother, Nando, who disappeared on the Day of the Dead.
In his adventure they run into skulls, alebrijes and even a peculiar Spanish ghost.
What to expect: The Legend of the Nahuala is the first in a series of successful films about Mexican legends.
In 2007 the sequel, The Legend of La Llorona, was released; in 2014, The Legend of the Mummies of Guanajuato; in 2016, The Legend of the Chupacabra; in 2018, The Legend of the Black Charro and this year The Legends, the Origin will be released.
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5. Coco (Adrian Molina, Lee Unkrich, 2017)
Synopsis: Miguel is a boy who dreams of being a musician, but his grandmother forbids him because his great-great-grandfather, a musician, abandoned them, and they want him to continue with the family business: being a shoemaker.
By accident, he enters the Land of the Dead. He is not able to leave unless a dead relative grants him his blessing, but his great-great-grandmother conditions his return to the world of the living if he promises that he will not be a musician.
Miguel refuses and goes in search of his great-great-grandfather.
What to expect: This Disney Pixar blockbuster won the 2018 Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film and took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song.
Since its premiere, it has been a phenomenon and has made our Day of the Dead tradition known throughout the world.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: Here