Faith and Film No. 4

Encanto is an amazing film with a great story of redemption, reconciliation, acceptance, and value. It has great songs, vibrant imagery, and a story that resonates. It also has a clear analogy to some obscure Old Testament characters. That analogy is what we’ll explore today.

Let’s begin by doing what the movie tells us not to. Let’s talk about Bruno. In Encanto, the Madrigal family from Columbia escaped during some form of revolutionary violence. During that escape, the patriarch of the family sacrificed himself to protect his wife and three young children. After his sacrifice, a miraculous candle saved his wife Alma and her newborn triplets and provided them with a home, the magical casita. The casita provides each generation of the Madrigal family with powers that bless them and all the strangers who eventually settle in a village surrounding their home. Life blossoms for the Madrigal family as those generations begin to grow with powers and abilities that truly enrich the lives of those in their community.

The Madrigal Family

Moving forward several years, we meet Mirabel. She’s the youngest daughter of Julietta (one of the triplets) and Agustin. In an opening sequence, she introduces the powers of her mother, aunt, uncle, and cousins but leaves us wondering what her power might be. We learn that her aunt has the ability to project weather (both good and bad) upon her circumstances; her mother can heal wounds or sickness with certain dishes; one of her sisters possess superhuman strength while the other superhuman beauty and grace. We see her cousins who have powers of transformation, overtly sensitive hearing, and eventually the ability to talk to animals.

Then, we learn, in a terribly sad moment, that Mirabel never received a gift, to her grandmother’s unending disappointment. In a scene with real emotional depth, we see the young girl’s confusion and her grandmother’s disappointment when the magical door closes. That scene sets the stage for the conflict that arises in the story, a broken relationship, recovery from genuine tragedy, and the passing of one generation to the next.

Abeula and a Young Mirabel

The lack of a gift and the sudden cracks appearing in the casita lead Mirabel on a hunt for her missing uncle Bruno. He becomes the center of our discussion moving forward because his life is a tragedy itself that mirrors some tragic moments from the Old Testament Scriptures.

Bruno’s gift was one of prophecy. In fact, there’s a song entitled “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” that describes his effect on the village and his family. His sister, nephew, and a few notable villagers describe his prophecies as a curse. As Bruno foretold the weather on their wedding day (stormy), the death of their beloved goldfish, or even their future looks (large stomach and a bald head), they each describe his prophecy as something that permanently destroyed or distorted their lives.

They sing that Bruno was someone who brought these things upon them, without submitting a single solitary bit of evidence to support that claim. We soon learn that Bruno fled from his family, hiding in the walls of casita because of the strain his predictions had brought his family. As she searches for the meaning of Bruno’s prophecies, Mirabel discovers he’s not quite the monster some had pegged him to be.

That leads to this simple point, Bruno reminds me of the OT prophets.

Consider their situation. As men who were sent by God with a message that was uncomfortable to most, judgment to others, and usually difficult to hear we must ask, are we surprised they were rejected so often? Just listen to how several NT writers remind the Jewish people how they once treated the prophets.

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.

Acts 7:51-53

Stephen’s direct confrontation is pointed and unwavering. The idea that the Jewish people of the First Century were just repeating the sins of their fathers who rejected the prophets is also echoed in James who said:

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

5:10

It would also be a shame if I didn’t mention that Jesus spoke several times about how the Fathers treated the prophets in His gospels. This quote from the Sermon on the Mount seems appropriate:

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:11-12

Comparing the two we find that the rejection of both Bruno and the OT prophets had very little to do with them or their message and everything to do with those who heard it. Instead of taking the message at face-value and correcting their lives, the characters in the movie rejected the messenger. The Jews were guilty of the same. However, they didn’t just reject God’s prophets, they rejected God as well. They heard His patient appeals of repentance and rejected them as the wishes of a God they had forgotten and moved past.

There is a story in First Samuel 8 that epitomizes the story. The Jewish people asked for a king like the nations around them and it angered Samuel the prophet. God responded in this way:

Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

First Samuel 8:8

The sadness of that phrase, “they have rejected Me” is a terrible indictment on the Jewish people as a whole. They rejected the prophets, they rejected the Messiah, they rejected God’s Will, and they rejected God’s Word.

Thankfully, like the movie, some who saw the wisdom of God’s Son and the fulfillment of Scripture in His life and death were able to reconcile the divide between their souls and their creator.

Much like the movie, the reunion was profound. Bruno was misunderstood, just like the prophets. As the Madrigal family welcomed him back into their fold, so can the people who reject God’s messengers. They can see the error of their quick and false judgment and reconcile something that never needed to be broken.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.