Coco- Disney does Death

Coco is the new Disney Pixar movie that came out earlier this year. It’s explores the adventures of young boy Miguel who finds himself in the afterlife and meeting his deceased relatives. It’s full of Disney cheer, music and joy but with the obvious undertones of death and bereavement. When I first heard about this film, I was at the Death Cafe in November and I knew I had to see it when it was released. Part of my feelings around the Death Positivity movement include talking more openly and frankly about death. This includes conversations with family and with children. I don’t feel that we should hide death from children. I’m also not convinced that we should smother them in it either but there are practical ways of confronting this. The fact Disney decided to make this film and approach this subject is fascinating in itself!

Coco does go deeply into death, maybe a little deeper than some parents would be comfortable with. Personally, I’m not a parent but I feel that you would know by your child whether something will scare them unnecessarily. Or, if you cannot predict but you are worried they are too scared by something they have seen, should this not be the time to have a conversation and explore that topic with them to put them at ease? Children will develop fear and anxiety around certain topics but that doesn’t mean we should shied them from them.

An article on Gloucestershire Live written by a parent explained that his four year old daughter was clearly affected by the themes of Coco. He advises that it may not be for the very young and I can sympathise with this. However he does not explain if he spoke to her after or how he dealt with this, and I think that is a shame. I know as a young child, the concept from this film of being forgotten once you have died would have stuck with me and definitely caused a lot of thoughts. I already thought about that as a child, but maybe it would have provoked a conversation with my parents after having seen this film. Maybe.

The director has been quoted as stating that the movies they make are not for kids alone but for “for everybody – for adults and ourselves. We just make sure they’re appropriate for kids”, which seems fair. I think we’ve all, if you’ve seen them, shed a tear during the first scenes of Up or at that point in Toy Story 3 (you know which bit if you’ve seen it). A lot of movies have a habit of throwing in upsetting scenes but this this not part of why we find them memorable. Funnily enough, these scenes too have a theme of death about them, but is it that Coco is more obvious in showing skeletal figures and an afterlife?

Like with most of the themes surrounding this blog, whether it be death, funerals, organ donation etc., there are simply not enough conversations about them in my opinion. People shun from discussing the morose and depressing, but by doing so only create a taboo around a subject that at some point we all have to face or consider. I think these taboos create more damage to people than discussing them openly ever could. If by seeing Coco even a handful of children open up to their parents about their thoughts or even worries regarding death and, by doing so, become less afraid of a subject that can seem terrifying at a young age, then I am delirious this film was made! Well done Disney!

Just as a final note, yes I loved the movie completely and, yes, it did make me cry. Twice. Oh and I thought you might like to know I wore themed clothing because I am that kind of nerd. Huge thanks to Laura T for accompanying me tonight, for crying in those bits too and for also buying me a massive ice cream. You’re a brilliant human being.

Thank you all for reading! Go see the film if it’s your kind of thing.

MG x

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