Miguel is one of the biggest reasons Coco warmed hearts across the world. Seeing this little Mexican boy be so passionate about music and his family was a complete joy, especially because Latinos could relate to his struggles and beliefs. But imagine Miguel wasn’t Mexican. Too bizarre, right? In fact, it’s kind of ludicrous to think that the story of Miguel in Coco would be authentic to the rich history of Dia de los Muertos. But that was the original plan.
Coco director Lee Unkrich has disclosed several fascinating (and kind of alarming) details about the original storyline. In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Unkrich talked about Miguel’s origins.
“The first story that we developed for about 8 months or so, there was still a boy as the main character, but he was an American boy and he had a father who was American. His mother had been from Mexico but she had passed away right before the story started and it was a story about the father taking the boy down to Mexico to meet his Mexican family for the first time on Dia de Los Muertos. A series of strange events happened and the boy ended up going to the land of the dead. But ultimately that story, there was no Ernesto de la Cruz or any of that, it was a journey film that ultimately was about this kid coming to grips with his mother being gone and saying goodbye to her and letting go of her.”
How incredible is that? The story that we know and love today wouldn’t have been about the history of Dia de los Muertos and more importantly, Mexican culture, but more about a mother and son. Unkrich goes on to say: “I realized at a certain point that the more that we were learning about Day of the Dead and what it’s all about, I realized that we were telling a story that was completely antithetical, thematically, to what Dia de Los Muertos is all about. Because Dia de Los Muertos is about never letting go. It’s about the importance of, remember your ancestors, and keeping their memories alive and we were telling a story that was from a very American, western, perspective about letting go and grieving. So at that point, I realized we needed to start over.”
We’re sure glad they did!