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Pixar's Coco directors Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich have revealed a deleted musical opening scene that introduces viewers to the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Pixar’s latest film Coco, based on the Mexican holiday of Día de Muertos, followed a young boy named Miguel who, while pursuing his dream of becoming a musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he will unlock a family secret and learn the meaning behind this celebration.
Coco has been widely praised for its rich visuals, emotional storyline, and its accurate and respectful depiction of Mexican culture, gaining a number of awards and nominations, most recently Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. Like many other Pixar films, Coco includes some musical numbers (most notably “Remember Me”), and even originally opened with a colourful musical tribute to Día de Muertos.
Via USA Today, Coco filmmakers Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich revealed the deleted opening number, which would have taken viewers directly to the Día de Muertos celebration. Writer and co-director Adrian Molina briefly explains that this musical opening was “in for a very long time, a number of years, before we changed it” in the video (see the clip embedded above), before it jumps to the incomplete animated footage from the sequence.
Although the animation was not completed and it’s more of a sketch/conceptual look, all the elements that made Coco stand out from other animated films can still be seen. The scene opens at a cemetery and quickly shifts to a colourful, more festive vibe, showcasing all the elements from Día de Muertos while the song reminds us that it’s all about remembering those who have left and celebrating their lives. It also gives a quick look at the main elements that form the “ofrenda” such as “pan de muerto”, sugar skulls, Mexican dishes such as “mole”, and the photographs of those who have left us.
In the end, the opening sequence for Coco introduced Miguel and his family in a beautiful animation of “papel picado” - a key decorative item in this celebration - and later explained what the tradition and its components (such as the ofrenda) are about. Keeping this original opening would have been repetitive in terms of storytelling, but it’s undeniable that it would have been a visual delight to see it in full animation.
Coco becomes available in HD Digital next week on February 13, and then on DVD/Blu-ray starting February 27.
Source: USA Today