Spunky 12-year-old Miguel (spiritedly voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) goes in search of his musical idol in the land of the dead.
This animated adventure is another visually dazzling triumph for Pixar, as well as a vibrant celebration of Mexican culture.
Miguel is desperate to become a musician like the great Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a celebrated actor-singer from the first half of the 20th Century. Ernesto hailed from Miguel’s hometown. Could he, in fact, have been his great-great-grandfather..?
However, Miguel’s family of shoemakers has upheld a ban on music for generations and on the day of the talent competition he secretly intends to enter, his stern grandmother smashes his prized guitar.
In his quest for a replacement, Miguel breaks into Ernesto’s crypt, only to end up magically transported to the colourful, bustling land of the dead. Significantly, it is the Día de los Muertos, the day when Mexican families visit the graves of their ancestors bearing food and gifts, and Miguel will be unable to return to the land of the living unless he obtains the blessing of his dead relatives.
Miguel’s quest – which must be completed by sunrise – provides Pixar’s animators with abundant opportunities for action, spectacle and humour. The land of the dead teems with visual invention and wit, there are lively songs (including the Oscar-winning Remember Me) and the characters are vividly drawn – from Bratt’s puffed up, vainglorious Ernesto to Gael García Bernal’s poignant trickster Hector, Miguel’s skeletal underworld guide.
Yet what makes the film so heartfelt and resonant is its rich exploration of family, love and memory.