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The Day of The Dead: Positive Outlook in Movie Coco

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In the movie, Coco’s death, grief, and memory are portrayed throughout the entire film. The film portrays death and grief with a positive outlook. In Mexican culture, the dead are honored and remembered by a celebration called the day of the dead. This is a celebration where families get together and prepare food in memory of their loved ones. The film also uses memory when it comes to Mama Coco. She is a great-grandmother of Miguel. She suffers from memory loss and has no memory of her father. Miguel goes an adventurous journey and discovers the truth about Coco’s father. The film uses both these methods in the film and shows how important family is.

The movie coco takes place on the day of the dead otherwise known as El Dia De Los Muertos. The day of the dead originated in Mexico. The day of the dead is a day when the living honors and remembers the dead by creating an altar with their relatives’ pictures. Families put offerings such as food and goodies on the altar. They also light candles in their memory. It is thought that on the day of the dead the souls visit earth to spend time with their loved ones. This is seen more as a celebration than a day to be sad.

In the movie Coco, Miguel is Coco’s great-grandson. He aspires to be a musician, but music is forbidden in his home because it is believed that Coco’s dad abandoned her and her mother to pursue a career as a musician. Music is seen as a curse in Miguel’s home. On the day of the dead, there is an altar with all of Miguel’s family members who have passed away except for Mama Coco’s dad. Nobody in the family cares to remember him since according to them he forgot and abandoned his family. Miguel is very curious to learn about his grandfather. Unfortunately, Mama Coco suffers from memory loss and is not able to recall or share any memories with Miguel.

Miguel loves music and is determined to become a musician. He becomes cursed when he steals the late Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar and crosses over to the land of the dead. Miguel goes on a journey to find Ernesto de la Cruz to receive what he calls the musicians blessing. On that journey, he finds out who his real great-grandfather is. He also learns that all those who are not remembered by the living eventually disappear forever this would include his great-grandfather Hector. At the end of the film, Miguel sings the song remember me and Mama Coco remembers that Hector sang this song to her when she was little.

The film Coco relates to death and grief. The movie portrays how death is embraced in a more positive way. The film also relates to memory because it shows how Coco can remember the memories of her dad once she hears that special song.

Culture plays a big role on how death is viewed. “In some cultures, death is accepted as a natural part of life and is embraced”. In the film, Coco’s death is portrayed as a big celebration. Even a talent show takes place on the day of the dead. In the scene where Miguel goes to the cemetery to steal Ernesto de La Cruz’s guitar, the cemetery is lit up with candles and all the graves are decorated with flowers while people gather around to remember their loved ones. There are also fireworks going off in the background. This gives a feeling of unity and cheerfulness how all the families are coming together to celebrate their loved ones. “For example, research suggests that people with religious or spiritual beliefs are better able to cope with death because of their hope in an afterlife and because of social support from religious or spiritual associations”.

In the film, grief is portrayed in a positive way. At the end of the film, Miguel tells his baby sister that their loved ones are counting on them to remember them. It also shows Mama Coco’s picture on the altar meaning she has passed away to the afterlife as well. “Ninety-four percent of studies show some positive effects of religious/spiritual beliefs on bereavement, but there was a great heterogeneity regarding included populations and outcome measurements”.

This being a children’s film it showed the positive outlook on death. At one point everybody will die, it is a part of life. This does not mean that because you die you will be forgotten. In the film, neutral acceptance of death is portrayed. “Neutral acceptance refers to viewing death as a natural part of life; individuals who hold a neutral attitude toward death perceive death as an inevitable part of life”.

People cope with the death of a loved one in different ways. In the movie, death is seen as a celebration of life, but this may not always be the case. Some people may feel, angry, confused, sad. “Kübler-Ross proposed five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance”. Seeking counseling is always a good option when needing help on how to cope with grief.

“Memory is the set of processes used to encode, store, and retrieve information over different periods of time”. “The hippocampus s involved with recognition memory and spatial memory”. At the beginning of the movie, Mama Coco greets Miguel and calls him Julio. Mama Coco also has no memory of her father Hector. At the beginning of the movie Miguel explains that Mama Coco has trouble remembering things. We can infer that this is due to her old age. She is suffering from memory loss. For her to be a great-grandmother she is probably very old. Unfortunately, memory loss may come with old age. Coco is in the stage of development of late adulthood which is also the last physical stage. “Starting at the age of 60 the brain may also no longer function at optimal levels, leading to problems like memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in later years”.

In the beginning, when Miguel would talk to Mama Coco, she seemed like she was in her own world because she would not show any emotions and she would not talk. When Miguel returned from the afterlife, he begged mama Coco to remember her dad hector otherwise he would disappear forever. He remembered to play the song remember me because that was the song Hector would sing to her every day when she was little. The song had a big sentimental value to Coco. Coco starts singing along and remembers her dad Hector. Hearing that song made an impact on her and caused her to retrieve that memory. “The explicit memory results support prior findings that patients with AD rely heavily on familiarity, but also suggest that there may be limitations on the benefits that music can provide to recognition memory performance”.

Another example of memory is used in the film is when Hector Confronts Ernesto. He replays the memory of how Ernesto stole his songs and poisoned him for him to rise to the top and become famous. Shortly after he recalls another memory when he tells Miguel about his daughter who turns out to be Coco and the song he used to sing to her every night. “This memory would be considered an episodic memory because it is a memory that he personally experienced”. All Hector wanted was the truth to be known and for his daughter and wife to forgive him. The whole time Imelda, who is Hector’s wife, and Coco thought Hector abandoned them when he really tried to go back to his family but was poisoned by Ernesto. At the end of the film, Imelda forgave Ernesto and they were both reunited with Coco in the afterlife.

In conclusion, the Film Coco has psychological references of death and grief. It also showed how memory is used throughout the film. If Coco wouldn’t have been able to remember Hector, he would’ve disappeared forever. It also made other references related to memory, for example, Hector remembering his family.

The movie was able to show a positive outlook on death and grief. Instead of portraying people sad and crying, they chose to portray it as people celebrating their loved ones. Many times, people may correlate death with darkness gloominess, but in the film, they chose bright vibrant colors. This gave the film a more cheerful outlook.

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The Day Of The Dead: Positive Outlook In Movie Coco. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from
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