Coco: how Pixar creates a story

Nineteen films. 22 years. No one does animation better than Pixar. Their films speak to all ages and create a great movie-going experience for parents and children alike. There is a formula known as the ‘Pixar Pitch’ that can outline your story in a clean and clear-cut manner. It is simple: Once upon a time, Every Day, One day, Because of that, Because of that, Until Finally,

Let’s look at Finding Nemo. Once upon a time, there was a fish living with his son. Every day he was very overprotective. One day his son gets fed up with his father’s antics and goes out into dangerous waters. Because of that he gets captured and taken to a dentist’s office. Because of that, his father goes across the ocean to find him. Until finally, he finds him and brings him home.

Do you get the gist? Well, this formula has proven time and time again to be an effective way to tell a story. The beef and the complexity is added on to the structure. We see this same formula executed in 2017’s “Coco.”

Every ‘Dia de Los Muertos’, or Day of the Dead, ancestors who have their picture on their family’s ofrenda, the decorative altar made to honor the deceased, can travel back to visit them in spirit. They spend most of their time in the Land of the Dead, a colorful city where people live in the afterlife.

Our hero, Miguel lives in a family that outlawed music after an ancestor left his family in pursuit of his musical dream. The strict policy against music naturally drives Miguel to rebel and play music himself. He is transported to the land of the dead after an encounter with an ancient guitar, where he discovers things about his past and himself. Part of his journey is trying to find his great ancestor who is responsible for the music rule.

The story has the skeleton of any Pixar flick. Some add-ons are commentary on family history, pressure, and memory. Just like other Pixar projects, “Coco” is a deep and wonderful look into a beautiful world that kids and adults can enjoy together. Part of what makes Pixar special is its appeal to a diverse audience. “Coco” has mature concepts that can be appreciated by anyone and everyone.

Pixar’s world-building is unmatched. They create amazing worlds where the improbable happens. The visuals and animation aspect is a whole different article on its own. By creating visual contrast over the dark land of the dead, there is a brightness brought to those who have passed and are remembered, connecting itself to the story in a thoughtful way.

They include humane elements to the characters and give them flaws and struggle. Lightning McQueen is cocky, Carl from “Up” is bitter in his old age, and Miguel is harsh and a bit selfish, causing some heartbreaking scenes in the film. These flaws add an edge to Pixar’s films.

“Coco” is much like its predecessors, beautiful in many ways. It’s unique, interesting, and appealing to all. As long as Pixar keeps its formula, we will have many great films for the years to come.