★★★★★ Say What?!
Genre: Animated, Children's Movie
Background: The film focuses on El Día de los Muertos, a mexican holiday that celebrates and remembers the dead. Folklore says that there are two lands for the deceased: the beautiful and lively land of the remembered, which is ruled by La Muerte, and the despondent land of the forgotten, ruled by Xibalba.
El Libro de la Vida follows the romantic antics of Manolo, Maria and Joaquín, three friends who have been stuck in a love triangle (Manolo and Joaquín both love Maria) since childhood. Seeing the silly trio, La Muerte and Xibalba decide to make a bet on which boy will win Maria's heart. Maria is a rambunctious child, and as punishment for her antics, her father sends her to boarding school in Spain to teach her how to be a "lady". The two boys, enamored with Maria, promise to wait until her return. When Maria returns years later, Joaquín is a war hero (thanks to some black magic), and Manolo is a torero who wishes to be a musician. The bet is still on, and La Muerte and Xibalba start to interfere with the love triangle, leading to a very complicated love story.
This is an adorable and culturally relevant movie that I suggest everyone watch. The animation is beautiful and intricate, the music is original (with some songs in Spanish and some in English), and to top it all off, there's a strong female character and a feminist theme! Cheers all around! Most importantly, El Libro de la Vida talks about the afterlife and El Día de los Muertos, which gives viewers a wonderful insight into Mexican culture and history.
★★✩✩✩ Easygoing / ★★★✩✩ Intermediate /
★★★★★ Say What?!
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It is important to note that El Libro de la Vida was originally produced in English, then translated to Spanish. Although I usually try to stay clear of translatated works, I made an exception for El Libro de la Vida because the translation is impeccable, without any glaring mistranslations. To make the viewing experience ★★✩✩✩ Easygoing, watch the movie in Spanish, but with English subtitles; to make it ★★★✩✩ Intermediate, watch it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles; and if you want a challenge, make it a ★★★★★ Say What?! difficulty and try to watch the movie in Spanish without any subtitles! I would personally suggest watching the movie in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, as it means you can learn a few new words.
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