There’s just so much to love in this film. For me, though, it really feels like the anti-Disney film. In the best possible way, I mean. Because where Frozen used parts of native cultures appropriatively, with no reference to the origin and meaning of those cultural symbols, Book of Life is completely steeped in its culture. It’s not a movie with some Mexican stuff thrown in for the sake of “political correctness” nor is it a film shamelessly ripping off indigenous culture. It’s a film by Mexicans for everyone about Mexican culture.
Heck, in the beginning few minutes of the movie the narrator actually says, “Now, as we all know, Mexico is the center of the world.” And she is neither kidding, nor being intentionally ironic. She’s just stating a fact. Mexico is the center of the world. And, yeah. This is a Mexican folktale, so Mexico in this story is the center of the world. That’s a given.
It pretty much highlights the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural sharing. Because this is a movie made for a predominantly non-Hispanic audience (hence why they’re always explaining everything), but it’s made with love. As a sort of, “Here’s what we love about our culture. You are free and welcome to love it too.” And I want more of that in the world. That’s a great thing. It’s not about us coming in and taking anyone’s culture, it’s about them deciding to share it. Who doesn’t want more of that?