Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Music of Disney’s Encanto

2021 is definitely another huge year for Lin-Manuel Miranda. He starred in Vivo, an animated film that’s now available on Netflix. Tick, Tick…Boom! marked his directorial debut starring Andrew Garfield as Jonathan Larson, the creator of the Broadway hit Rent. In the Walt Disney Animation Studio film, Encanto, he was brought on board to write songs. The animated film follows a Colombian family with superpowers. During the Global Press Conference, Miranda talked about working on the film and more.

Throughout the songwriting process, Miranda was allowed a lot of freedom thanks to co-director Byron Howard. The Madrigal family is big, and he had a method to keep track of the characters.

“There were songs where I put points on the board and was like, ‘All right, here’s our opening number. Here’s how everyone’s related, and what they can do,'” Miranda said. “I wrote that opening number before we had a second act or third act to our film because we needed it for ourselves to keep track of everybody. And these names may change and the powers may change, but we know the audience is going to need a guide, and Mirabel’s going to be our guide, so let’s write that song early.”

One of the songs Miranda wrote was “Dos Oruguitas,” and he talks about the personal aspect of the song and how it was a metaphor for growing.

“And in approaching this moment, without spoilers, it’s a moment where we reveal a really personal part of the Madrigal family history,” he said. “It didn’t feel right to have a character sing in real-time, which is what all the other characters are doing over the course of the movie. And so I thought, ‘I think we need a folk song. I think we need a song that feels like it’s always existed.’ And riffing off of the butterfly imagery, I thought, ‘Well, you know, butterflies have to go through a miracle to even become butterflies.’ So I wrote this song about two caterpillars who are in love and are scared of letting each other go, but of course have to let each other go to become their next selves. It was a nature metaphor that was already baked into the visuals of the film but speaks so specifically to what this family is going through in terms of trying to see each other more fully, and in terms of you have to change to get to the next level and you have to allow yourselves to change.”

Family is an important aspect of the film, and the relationships can be complicated. The themes touched in the film is relatable to those in a large family.

“Anyone who has grown up in any family understands the tension of how you see yourself versus how your family sees you and how that grows and changes over time,” Miranda said. “That is multiplied by your siblings, and your aunts, and your uncles, and your cousins, and the ways in which you interact with all those folks. That’s all meaty stuff to write about. Honestly, I don’t think there is a person who can go to this movie and not identify with a character up on that screen.”

About Encanto

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope. The film is directed by Jared Bush (co-director “Zootopia”) and Byron Howard (“Zootopia,” “Tangled”), co-directed by Charise Castro Smith (writer “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez”), and produced by Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer; the screenplay is by Castro Smith and Bush. “Encanto” features original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”); Germaine Franco (“Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Little,” “Tag”) composed the original score.

Encanto hits U.S. theaters on November 24, 2021.

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