*Here’s hoping you’ve jumped aboard the Encanto train by now, but if you haven’t, read on carefully, as there may be a few spoilers you don’t want to hear just yet.*
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. We don’t talk about Bruno.
But this time, we have to. We have to talk about Bruno and the undeniable injustice that has been done to him in the story of Encanto, the 60th animated feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Encanto debuted at theaters on November 24th, just before Thanksgiving, and then made its Disney+ debut one month later on Christmas Eve. By now you probably know that Encanto is the story of the extraordinary family Madrigal, who all live together in a sprawling magical house called la casita.
The film was directed by talented veterans of the film arena, Jared Bush and Byron Howard, and the wildly popular music from the film was written by some of the most talented in the business, including the incomparable Lin Manuel Miranda, and has already enjoyed some top spots on Billboard’s charts and on Spotify.
Each member of the Madrigal family has been given a magical gift or a magical ability, except for Mirabel Madrigal, the main character in the storyline, voiced by actress Stephanie Beatriz. Initially, you might think that the self-discovery journey on which most Disney characters embark in a Disney feature film would have everything to do with Mirabel.
But in a lot of ways, it has far more to do with her uncle, Bruno Madrigal, voiced by John Leguizamo. Bruno was banished from the family’s compound years ago by his own mother, Abuela Alma, the matriarch of the family, because the magical gift with which he was “blessed” had a clairvoyant component to it. So when Abuela began to fear Bruno’s prophecies might take away her control over the family, she made him leave.
And we could end the post here, but you’d never get to hear the truth about Abuela or about Bruno, and you’d wonder why I’m soliciting apologies for Bruno. So let’s continue.
During the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” in the film, we learn from Pepa’s lyrics that Bruno, her brother and Mirabel’s uncle, ruined her wedding day. The weather had been perfect, until “Bruno walked in with a mischievous grin,” and when she sings those lyrics, we get a glimpse of Bruno, and it’s awful.
Then, according to Pepa, “Bruno says it looks like rain,” and then Felix and Pepa were “married in a hurricane.” When I really broke down the lyrics to this song, there were confusing. Pepa blamed Bruno for ruining her wedding day by telling her that it “looked like rain,” but his gift has nothing to do with controlling the weather.
Actually, that’s Pepa’s gift. Pepa is the one who controls the weather. And she does so with her emotions, so if the weather was chaotic that day, the blame lies with Pepa and not Bruno. In this scenario, think of Bruno as the meteorologist, and Pepa as the combo cold front/warm front colliding.
But it’s during the final song of the film that the whole truth comes out about Pepa’s wedding day–and only because Bruno is finally there to advocate for himself, thanks to Mirabel’s determination to bring him back to the family where he belongs.
In the song titled, “All of You,” which is sung after la casita has come to ruins, the Madrigal family regroups physically and emotionally, and it’s Mirabel’s shape-shifting cousin Camillo who notices Bruno and asks, “So, we gonna talk about Bruno?” And Bruno immediately begins to explain what happened at Pepa’s and Felix’s wedding, and it has absolutely nothing to do with a far-fetched prophecy:
“Pepa, I’m sorry ’bout your wedding/didn’t mean to be upsetting
That wasn’t a prophecy/I could just see you were sweating
And I wanted you to know that your bro loves you so
Let it in, let it out, let it rain, let it snow, let it go!
That’s what I’m always saying, bro/Got a lotta ‘pologies I got to say”
Sadly, is conditioned to think he’s done something terrible–like he’s an abomination, when, in truth, the cause of Pepa’s wedding day debacle was at best a misunderstanding on her part about what was saying to her, and at worst, her attempt to lay blame on him for her inability to control her emotions, thus resulting in the terrible weather that befell them that day.
But clearly believes he’s the true black sheep of the family, and even in the , he admits he’s “got a lotta ‘pologies to say.” But the apologies that need to be said should be coming from his sister Pepa and his mother, Abuela. Pepa is responsible for her own wedding day downfall.
And it’s clear from Camillo’s representation of that he has been conditioned to think of his uncle as an awful, evil being. Just look at how he shape-shifts into what he thinks his uncle looks like.
Every member of the who portrayed as an evil monster, especially those who misrepresented him to members of the family too young to have any recollection of him, owes an apology as well, to say nothing of Abuela, who was responsible for ‘s banishment and presumably the family’s view of as a whole.
Then, and only then, can true forgiveness happen within the Madrigal family. Then, and only then, will the magic and miracles continue to grow.