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Breaking down Encanto

Breaking down Encanto

If you have been on TikTok this past month, you have probably failed to escape the viral songs and theories about a certain newly released movie. Ofcourse, I am talking about Disney’s Encanto! 

Encanto is about the family Madrigal who has been blessed for generations by a magical candle who gifted them a magical house (Casita) and superpowers after Abuela lost her husband in a war. Unfortunately, Mirabel, who is the main character, did not receive any superpowers. 

This is already quite different from most Disney films, where the main character discovers their secret gift which then makes them special. In Encanto, the roles are reversed. Mirabel is kind of the black sheep of the family. And she herself knows this very well. That’s why, when cracks start to appear in the Casita threatening the magical candle and gifts of the family members, she is determined to find a solution and save the Miracle (the candle). The film covers themes like generational trauma, forgiveness, family and sacrifice. 


So, are we going to talk about that ending? (SPOILERS)

In Encanto, we figure out that uncle Bruno, who has the ability to see in the future, predicted that Mirabel would be the reason for Casita falling apart, but also healing itself, which eventually happens.

I could talk for hours about all the theories and hidden messages in Encanto, so here they are! Personally, I saw the miracle as Reputation. Because of her own trauma, Abuela made sure to protect the miracle/reputation and lost sight of what really matters. Everyone in the family needed to appear ‘perfect’ to the outside world, and hide their own feelings. For instance, Luisa felt like she had to take on every family burden, Isabela was stuck being the ‘golden child’ and went as far as almost marrying someone just for the family. In the end, when Abuela asks for forgiveness, she herself says that the house was already broken before the cracks started appearing. During the movie, we see that Mirabel has deep conversations with her family members where they always end up revealing their deepest bottled up pressures. When Isabela finally freed herself from perfection, it looked like Casita was getting stronger and better. However, Abuela did not like the new Isabela and blamed Mirabel for this. We see again that Abuela is too busy with the family’s reputation instead of her own granddaughter’s wellbeing. Mirabel finally realises that she and the whole family would never be good enough for her. Mirabel’s emotions in this scene cause the whole Casita to break down (foreshadowing that her future gift is connected to Casita). With Mirabel’s help, the family members finally got the courage to free themselves of the restrictions of upholding the family’s status, which hurt the candle/reputation and thus, the Casita (and their gifts).



A recurring theme throughout the movie is the butterfly that appears near Mirabel. In the end, we hear the beautiful emotional song ‘dos Oruguitas’ which means two caterpillars. I interpreted that young Abuela and her late husband were two caterpillars. As every caterpillar, they have to spin themselves in a cocoon and then break free as a butterfly. Abuela’s husband was not given the opportunity to spin its cocoon, but Abuela did get a second chance from the Miracle candle. I think that the Casita was Abuela’s cocoon. There, she could have a second chance in life while growing and developing with her family. However, she never grew and stuck with her toxic behaviour towards the family. The family members were stuck and felt like their wings were tied. They were expected to behave a certain way, Abuela’s way. So exactly like the prophecy predicted, Mirabel needed to break the house in order for the Madrigals to transform and shine through, just like when a butterfly burst out of their cocoon. 

Breaking down boundaries and letting her family members’ hidden feelings shine through is why the butterfly theme resonates with Mirabel. I think that this is her gift, to build healthy and loving relationship dynamics in the family Madrigal. This is probably why she did not get a door when she was younger, her door is the front door of Casita, because she saves the house from breaking apart. 

All of these personal theories that everyone can interpret differently is what makes Encanto such a good film and definitely worth the watch!


Author: Rashmi Baldew

Editor: Phoebe Elliott

Visuals by: Rea Roitner


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