How Accurately Does Encanto Represent Colombian Culture?

A long history of cultural and social upheaval in Colombia has negatively influenced the perception of what life is really like in the South American country, according to Polygon. Western media typically focuses on problems faced by the citizens of the country, rather than delving into the rich history and varied cultures included within its borders. Released in 2021, the full-length Disney film "Encanto" takes place in Colombia, and audiences — including many native Colombians living both at home and abroad — eagerly awaited an accurate portrayal of life in their homeland, filtered through the lens of Disney. But just how accurately does "Encanto" represent Colombian culture?

Rich in magical realism, "Encanto" tells the story of a young girl named Mirabel Madrigal, the only person in her family lacking superhuman abilities. Feeling neglected by her grandmother, and referencing many periods of violence throughout Colombian history, Mirabel is tasked with preserving the enchanted home, keeping her family safe, proving her worth, and redeeming her character, via Polygon. On top of that somewhat fanciful subject matter, however, "Encanto" also manages to render Colombian culture accurately, according to those familiar with the country.

It gets many things right

Perhaps most notable about the cultural representation offered by the film "Encanto" are the numerous instances in which actual Colombians were involved in the production process, from cast members like John Leguizamo, who was born in the country, to the actor Wilmer Valderrama, who lived there as a child, among others, according to the Hollywood Reporter. What's more, production was supported by the Colombian Cultural Trust, ensuring authenticity in what the movie shows on screen. Even the soundtrack from Lin-Manuel Miranda features Colombian recording artists like Carlos Vives.

As Screen Rant reports, though, Colombian culture is, of course, more than just one thing, varying greatly from region to region and in the urban versus rural environments. For this reason, it would be impossible for "Encanto" to get everything right. Examples of the hard work to maintain authenticity both on screen and behind the scenes include traditional architectural designs in the rural regions depicted in the movie and an accurate depiction of what family life is like in Colombian culture. Even what's referred to as "The Violence," ever-present and inescapable, rang true to the real-life experiences of native Colombians, according to Polygon.