How Disney’s “Encanto” Comforts “Gifted” Kids


Jessica Vanderbeck

Encanto is well on its way to becoming the next greatest Disney classic.

Jessica Vanderbeck, Reporter

“Encanto” is the latest Disney film that’s been gaining the hearts of both kids and adults nationwide. The film centers around the Madrigal family, a bloodline blessed with a magical candle which grants powers to every family member- except for the film’s protagonist, Mirabel. When the house begins losing its magic, she must uncover a family secret to save it. But besides the family focus, this film serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when children are held to impossibly high standards. And some of the film’s most popular songs are perfect examples. This article may contain spoilers, so proceed with caution.

The most obvious example of this message is in “Surface Pressure.” This song is performed by Luisa Madrigal, whose “gift” is super strength. Beyond its eye-catching visuals and catchy beat, the lyrics of this number serve as a metaphor mainly for the emotional burden that older siblings have to carry. However, you can also read it as the expectations that adults have for “gifted” children. When people notice that a child can do beyond what’s expected of them, they push them harder and harder. What would be a challenge for a “normal” kid becomes the norm for a gifted one. And when they have to do something that’s objectively difficult that they think should be easy, they break down. We actually see Luisa cry a few times throughout the movie as she loses her gift, before accepting her feelings in “All of You,” singing that while she is strong, she sometimes cries, and needs the help of others, and that’s okay.

“What Else Can I Do?” carries a similar theme to “Surface Pressure,” also tackling the weight of high expectations. But while the latter takes a literal approach discussing the burden of hard work, the former deals with the expectation to be “perfect.” The character which performs this number, Isabela, is widely known as being, well, “perfect”, producing gorgeous flowers on the regular. However, upon producing a cactus, she begins to question if producing perfection is what she truly wants. The constant need to produce a perfect result is all too well-known among gifted children. Turning in something that isn’t your best work can be incredibly distressing. But upon learning that just putting in the effort is better than nothing at all.

 Even the most popular song from the film’s score, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has undertones of the “gifted kid struggles” theme. Bruno, Mirabel’s uncle, was basically kicked out of the family because his gift wasn’t viewed as beneficial to his family. He told the truth, but that wasn’t what people wanted. This message of “being talented only matters when it suits those around you” is all too familiar for gifted kids. For example, being skilled at art is often frowned upon. Those who are good at art aren’t as well respected as those who are talented in more academic fields, such as math or science. This is further supported by the fact that both of the “outcasts” of the family, Mirabel and Bruno, are more artistically inclined. Mirabel does crafts, as shown by the pictures on her walls, the embroidery on her dress, and the jaguar that she makes for Antonio; Bruno is an “actor” that made a second home behind the walls.

Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press appropriately describes the film as “a triumph in every category: art, songs and heart.” Whether you relate it’s the family dynamics, find comfort in its gifted kid undertones, or are just simply appreciative of the film’s character designs, Encanto is well on its way to becoming the next great Disney classic.