Pixar’s Coco wowed audiences and critics after its release in late 2017, bringing a charming story to the screen while also paying homage to Mexican culture through its characters and themes. Coco went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song with “Remember Me”, which in my opinion captures the spirit of the film.
How so, you might ask? Well let’s take a look at the plot of the film. Miguel is a young boy born into a family of shoemakers, but has dreams of being a musician despite his family’s disapproval. His musical idol, the late Ernesto de la Cruz, inspires Miguel’s passion for guitar, and eventually sparks the decision to seize his moment as a musician and performer.
De la Cruz’s magnum opus, “Remember Me “, was ironically performed before his shocking death, which in turn made the song the ultimate tribute to his career and legacy as one of Mexico’s greatest musicians of all time.
Miguel constantly refers to De la Cruz, and during hard times he looks back to his idol’s career to motivate him to pursue music. Of course, this gets the young Miguel in trouble later on. On the night of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Miguel runs away from his family and accidentally gets transported to the Land of the Dead.
He eventually runs into his family members from the distant past, and they’re able to bring him back to the Living World with their blessing. However, this only comes under one condition: no more music. Miguel has to make a choice between his passion for music, or his family.
Now, without spoiling the rest of the movie and plot, we’ll jump straight to the importance of “Remember Me”. A song that initially was the symbol for Miguel’s inspiration of De la Cruz takes on an even deeper meaning at the film’s close. “Remember Me” becomes the song that Miguel sings to remember and honor his family members who have passed away, which circled back to the central reason the Mexican people celebrate Dia de los Muertos.
I think we all can agree that following our dreams and passions is important advice we should live by, but at the same time remembering those who have paved the way and sacrificed for us is something that we shouldn’t overlook. Miguel’s family took up shoemaking in order to provide for each other and to make a better life for generations to follow. And while some of Miguel’s relatives did indeed love music like he does, they decided to put that aside for the prosperity of the family. Miguel might be the last one in his family left that has the burning desire to follow his dream of being a musician, but it wouldn’t be possible without the structure of his hard-working family.
“Remember Me” and the dual meaning it takes on in Coco is a heartwarming reminder of this. Like Miguel, I think that we can all pursue what we want in life, and do so in a way where we dedicate our passions to our family and friends, or anyone who has helped inspire us to be who we truly are.