6 fascinating facts about Pixar's Coco

2017-11-22 11:37

Cape Town – The new Pixar animation Coco opens in South African cinemas on Friday, 24 November.

In Coco Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician, just like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead—following a mysterious chain of events.

To celebrate the release of the film we’ve put together some fascinating facts about the flick that will puzzle your mind!

1. Them bones

Filmmakers included subtle nods to the skeleton residents in the Land of the Dead. For example, the cobblestone streets feature some bone-shaped paving stones. 

2. Change of plants 

Artists at Pixar Animation Studios like to add vegetation—grass, trees, bushes—to exterior environments. But Coco filmmakers felt the Land of the Dead should be different. The only living plants in the vibrant fantastical world are marigolds. 

Filmmakers learned during their research trips to Mexico that the colour and aroma of marigold petals are believed to help guide the spirit of a family’s loved one home during Día de Muertos.

3. Recycled

Miguel’s loyal canine companion Dante is a Xolo dog—short for Xoloitzcuintli—the national dog of Mexico whose origins are deeply rooted in Mesoamerican civilization. The Xolo was regarded as the representative on Earth of the Aztec god Xolotl, the god of fire and lightning. Nearly hairless, Xolo’s also often have missing teeth and for that reason their tongue naturally hangs out. Filmmakers wanted to include this into Dante’s design and have his tongue behave like a character itself. To achieve the look, they borrowed the rig used in Finding Dory for “septopus” Hank’s dynamic tentacles.

4. Pulling strings 

In Coco, Miguel recycles an old guitar, patching it up and painting it to mirror Ernesto de la Cruz’s signature guitar. But filmmakers knew that if they assigned an adult artist to do the design, it wouldn’t look right. Director Lee Unkrich called on his son to tackle the project and create the recycled guitar’s design. 

All of the guitar playing in Coco is technically accurate. Filmmakers videotaped musicians playing each song and strapped GoPros to their guitars to give animators reference footage. 

5. Clothes make the crowd

More than 500 pieces of clothing were made to dress the crowd characters—from the residents of Santa Cecilia to the skeleton-attendees of Ernesto de la Cruz’s party in the Land of the Dead. Pixar artists spent time drawing in life sessions with Mexican folkloric dancers. Artists shaded, shaped and combined the 500 individual pieces in a variety of ways to outfit thousands of crowd characters. 

6. Chin up

Character artists spend months finding the right look for each character. And because Ernesto de la Cruz is a larger-than-life character known around the world, they wanted to give him identifiable attributes, including a cleft in his chin—visible in both the living and dead versions of the character. 

Artists gave the character a distinctive curl of hair that falls across his forehead.

He sports a pencil-thin moustache, which was common in the era Ernesto was popular. 

He wears all white in the Land of the Dead. With so many vibrant colours surrounding him, it helped ensure that Ernesto would be the centre of attention—just the way he likes it. Even his bones are pristine because he’s so well remembered.  

Animators gave Ernesto a bit of a swagger to showcase his celebrity status. 

(Photos: Disney)

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