‘Encanto’ Was Disney Animators’ ‘Hardest Film We Have Ever Worked on’: ‘This Time, It Was Much Bigger’

Encanto introduces a magical world that touches on the bond of family and self-discovery. Audiences of all ages are able to connect with Disney’s latest message. Encanto heads of animation Renato dos Anjos and Kira Lehtomaki called Disney’s latest movie the “hardest film we have ever worked on” and explained what made the film so complex.

‘Encanto’ introduces the Mirabel Madrigal and her family

Disney's 'Encanto' Mirabel voiced by Stephanie Beatriz holding a box of fireworks next to children
Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) | Disney

Encanto tells the story of a Colombian teenage girl named Mirabel Madrigal (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz). The entire village highly respects the Madrigal family, especially when considering their magic powers. They use their abilities for good, which is granted to them when they come of age. However, Mirabel is the only one to not get any powers.

The Madrigal family’s abilities range from Luisa’s super-strength to Pepa’s controlling the weather, all of which aid the family and other villagers. However, Mirabel discovers that the magical candle is fading along with the Madrigals family’s abilities. As a result, she must get to the bottom of what’s going on to save the family.

Heads of animation Renato dos Anjos and Kira Lehtomaki call ‘Encanto’ the ‘hardest film we have ever worked on’

Animation World Network talked with dos Anjos and Lehtomaki about working on the Disney film Encanto. They worked on many of the studio’s animated projects over the years, including Big Hero Six, Tangled, Frozen, and Moana. They called Encanto “the hardest film we have ever worked on.”

“It’s due to the complexity,” Lehtomaki said. “Having 12 main characters, all heavily featured within the film, who we had to find and do character exploration for, that was a larger task than [what we’ve faced on] some of the movies we’ve worked on in the past. Even ones with large casts, ultimately it still boils down to two or three main characters that you’re focusing on. This time, it was much bigger.”

“I think, ironically, the biggest challenge of all these characters was actually Mirabel,” Lehtomaki said. “You would think that given we’ve done multiple Disney heroines before, she wouldn’t be so hard. But, early on, the directors really put forth that Mirabel had to be different, and we couldn’t commandeer any animation seen on any other character and have it work on her.”

Dos Anjos and Lehtomaki also talked about the difficulty of introducing choreography, bringing the magical Madrigal house to life, and getting the physicality of every character just right.

Heading into the Oscars 2022 awards season

Disney’s Encanto is one of the year’s biggest movies. It made a huge splash into the awards conversation upon its release in theaters. However, its Disney+ release brought the film’s family magic to audiences around the world in a more accessible format.

Encanto is the frontrunner to take home the Best Animated Feature award at the Oscars 2022. It’s also a contender for Best Original Score and Best Original Song with “Dos Oruguitas.” Encanto has wide appeal and infuses the Disney magic into a cultural piece that touched so many folks.

Encanto is now streaming on Disney+.

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