WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! In case you haven’t watched COCO yet, I suggest you watch it before reading this blog post since there is a twist in the end that will be spoiled by this post.
With $1,543,328 total gross earnings in the Philippines (figure from BoxOfficeMojo), Coco has been the talk of the town since it was released last November 22, 2017. I watched Disney Pixar’s movie, Coco with my husband. I loved the movie as it was both an eye candy and had a really awesome story.
However, I noticed that it had a lot of similarities with another animated film, “The Book of Life”, which was released last October 2014. I’m not saying it’s the same or a rip-off, but the similarities between the two movies are well, pretty many. Considering that there aren’t that many animated films based on Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” cultures, I think that may be one of the main reasons why I can’t help but compare the two animated films.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, Coco and The Book of Life have different producers, Coco was produced and distributed by Disney & Pixar while The Book of Life is produced by Reel FX Creative Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Let me just enumerate the similarities between Coco and The Book of Life and you can judge for yourself if what I’m writing about here has a basis. Just note that I’m not looking down on “Coco” and I’m only doing this because somebody else may have noticed the similarities. I found it amusing so I hope you guys will too.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN COCO AND THE BOOK OF LIFE:
1) In both films, the setting was in Mexico and both of them showed us the colorful world of the Land of the Dead/Land of the Remembered. This setting actually made the film really enjoyable to watch because there were so many colorful eye candies.
What it looked like in COCO’s underworld (Land of the Dead):
What it looked like in THE BOOK OF LIFE’s underworld (Land of the Remembered):
2) In both films, the stories began with the customs and traditions, preparations and festivities of the day of the Dead.
> COCO: Miguel’s family ofrenda and other offerings at the cemetery.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Offerings at the cemetery can be seen while Lamuerte and Xibalba were wagering on which boy will marry Maria. They ask each boy for bread to test which one they would choose. Below is a screencap of a young Manolo and his family while they set up offerings and candles for his mother, Carmen Sanchez.
3) Both films also mentioned the importance of “being remembered”.
> COCO: Hector was slowly disappearing since his daughter Coco was forgetting about him because of old age. Also, Chicharrón (the guy holding a guitar below), who was Hector’s friend disappeared because no one remembered him on the land of the living.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: The Candlemaker mentioned that if Chakal kills the residents of San Angel, there will be no one left to remember the dead from that place and they will all disappear.
4) The main character “dies” and lives once again after a “condition” was met.
> COCO: Miguel was transported to the Land of the Dead after strumming the white guitar & sending marigold petals flying into the air. In order to return to the Land of the Living, his family should give him their blessings while holding a marigold petal.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo “dies” because he was tricked by Xibalba but later regains his life because he won a wager with Xibalba by conquering the bulls that his ancestors killed, thus conquering his fear of “becoming himself”.
5) The main character doesn’t want anything to do with the family business or what their family got known for. They both wanted to be a musician, so the story focuses on their struggle to become a musician despite opposition from their family.
> COCO: Miguel didn’t want to be a shoemaker, he wanted to be a musician just like his idol, Ernesto dela Cruz.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo didn’t want to become a bullfighter like the other Sanchezes before him, he wanted to play the guitar.
6) Family members opposed the main characters’ love for music.
> COCO: Miguel’s grandmother, Abuelita Elena Rivera enforces the ban on music since their great-great-grandmother Imelda Rivera banned music because she thought they were abandoned by his husband, Hector.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo’s father, Carlos Sanchez didn’t want him to become a musician since their family was full of well-known bullfighters.
7) Both films had one thing that they fight for, jump around and try to steal from each other.
> COCO: Photo of Hector Rivera
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Medal of Everlasting Life
8) The main character’s guitar was damaged and each used a guitar that was not originally his own but was given or passed on to him.
> COCO: Miguel’s guitar was smashed by his grandma so he took the white guitar.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo’s guitar was damaged when a boar attacked due to a pigs’ stampede caused by Maria. In return, she bought him a new guitar with an inscription (Always Play from the Heart) that kept him going.
9) The villains cheated and killed the good guy using poison/venom.
> COCO: Hector was poisoned (wine) by Ernesto dela Cruz and the latter stole his music sheets and lyrics.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Xibalba used his staff that turns into a two-headed snake to kill Manolo using its venom.
10) A song saves the day.
> COCO: Miguel played “Remember Me” so Mama Coco will remember his father, Hector once again.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo sings “The Apology song”, a song of forgiveness and the bulls (who kind of merged into one humongous bull) forgave Manolo and his family for the sufferings they had to go through because of the bullfighting tradition. After this, Manolo was able to get back to his human form.
11) Family member/s die and gets reunited with their family and ancestors at the Land of the Dead/Land of the Remembered.
> COCO: Mama Coco dies but not before she remembers his father. Upon her death, she joins his parents who are both looked younger than she was because they died young. Before her death, Mama Coco who kept the picture of his father, gave it to Miguel so the family photo with Hector’s photo in it was finally complete and displayed on top of the family ofrenda.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo’s father, Carlos dies sacrificing himself to give more time for San Angel’s people to prepare against Chakal’s army. Manolo’s grandmother, Anita Sanchez also dies because of cholesterol. Both of them join the family while Manolo was busy fighting the spirits of the dead bulls.
12) The truth about their deaths was only revealed until the later part of the story.
> COCO: Hector only realizes he’s been poisoned by his former friend, Ernesto dela Cruz when he blurts out that Ernesto said to him that he will move heaven and earth for him and Miguel then mentions that the sentence was used in one of Ernesto’s movies where the bad guy poisons his friend.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo only realizes that he’s been tricked by Xibalba and that Maria was alive upon meeting Xibalba at La Muerte’s castle. Instead of being bitten once and being sent into a trance-like state (like Maria), he was bitten twice because the snake used its two heads, which made it deadly.
13) In the end, their families realize that music was important so they embrace the main characters’ passion for music.
> COCO: It was because of music that Mama Coco spoke again and they used music to ensure Hector won’t disappear and the stolen music and lyrics were credited to the real composer.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo’s family embraced his passion for music when he was able to defeat the bull by making it disappear after asking the bulls for forgiveness.
14) The movie’s title was not the main character’s name but of something else that was important in the story.
> COCO: Coco was Miguel’s great-great-grandmother and was the reason why Hector didn’t fully disappear.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: The Book of Life had blank pages on Manolo’s history so the Candle Maker, along with La Muerte and Xibalba were able to bring him back to life since his life was not meant to end yet based on the Book of Life.
15) Marigolds are the reason for the main character to go to the other side.
> COCO: Marigolds transported Miguel to the Land of the dead/Land of the Remembered. It was also using Marigold that Miguel was able to receive his family’s blessing and return to the Land of the Living.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Manolo was transported back to the Land of the Living after the spirits of the bulls forgave him and transformed into Marigold petals.
TRIVIA: Marigolds are one of the most popular symbols of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is said that Marigolds guide the spirits of the dead to their family ofrenda and so they can partake of the food that their living family members have prepared for them.
16) Spirits of the family members can be seen along with their living relatives.
> COCO: Spirits in Coco had more prominent boney features.
> THE BOOK OF LIFE: Spirits in The Book of Life (while they were in the Land of the Living) had a bluish hue and a more artistic wooden feature.
There you have it, some of the similarities between Coco and The Book of Life.
However, there are a lot of differences between the two as well, including their film gross earnings. The Book of Life grossed $99 million on a $50 million budget while Coco grossed $288 million on a $200 million budget. Figures were based on the info found on Wikipedia.
Both films are both quite amusing to watch and I recommend both films because though they have a lot of similarities, each movie’s stories have highlights and lessons of their own.
To end this blog post, let me share one similar moral lesson from both movies. Both Coco and The Book of Life reveal that you should not be afraid to follow your heart and not be pressured by what society and your family dictates. Be who you want to be and don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams.
How about you? Did you guys notice the similarities between the two movies? If you haven’t watched either one, especially COCO, I suggest you watch both movies. COCO is still running in some cinemas while The Book of Life can be watched via DVD or online movie rentals and stores.
La Muerte was based on La Calavera Catrina (‘Dapper Skeleton’, ‘Elegant Skull’) by famous cartoon illustrator, José Guadalupe Posada. She was actually a satirical portrait of Mexican natives during the pre-revolution area who were heavily influenced by European aristocratic clothes and traditions. Though it was meant to be a satire, she became famous and is now an icon of the Mexican Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. As you may have noticed, her huge hat made her unique and was integrated into the design of La Muerte. In the Latin America-Spanish dub of The Book of Life, her name was changed to “La Catrina”. Also note that the surname POSADA was even used for some characters in the film namely, Maria and his father, General Jeronimo Guadalupe Posada.
Reel FX Animation Studios and director Jorge R. Gutierrez announced last June 2017 that there will be a sequel to The Book of Life. They even released a pre-production poster to tickle the minds of fans everywhere.
The movie is still in production and will be released either in 2019 or 2020.
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Images or videos seen in this blog post are not mine but are properties of Disney, Pixar, Reel FX Creative Studios and 20th Century Fox. These were presented in this article to make the comparisons easier. No copyright infringement intended.
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