The Psychological Depths of Disney’s Encanto

by Georgia Kirkendall

The animated film Encanto was released September of last year, but since then has only continued to gain momentum, including news of a sequel. I only just recently viewed the Disney movie after continuously hearing its praises sung, on a surprising variety of platforms for an animated children’s movie. I was hesitant to believe the hype as there are thousands of these types of films, and I’ve seen Frozen enough times to require a definitive reprieve from magical singing characters. 

Yet Encanto has a deeper meaning than most other animated movies popular these past few years. Therapists have pointed out that the movie addresses family dynamics and contentions. The plot revolves around a family with magical abilities meant to keep the family together. The Madrigal family includes personalities of the healer, perfectionist, protector, outcast, and matriarch. Through catchy tunes and eye-drawing animation, the characters in the movie express their burdens and ultimate connection and healing. 

The psychological stance is not the only addition that makes Encanto stand out. Immigrant children finally have characters which they can relate to, as the plot references the aspects of Latino culture and the intricacies of community. The film can also be seen through a religious lens as well as a secular one, with the values of family love, discovering identity, and love of neighbor. This creation has earned three Academy Award nominations. Instead of representing primarily white princesses in children’s media, we are finally seeing an appreciation for cultural diversity and values.