Let me tell you about The Book of Life. It is amazing on so many levels. The characters are beautiful and multi-faceted. There is rivalry but neither side is the bad guy. They are just different and go at things in different ways.

Joaquin’s courage was boosted by a magical tool but that wasn’t what made him a hero. He was a hero because he always wanted to do what was right. He never really let the competition for Maria’s heart overrule his love for his friends (both Manolo and Maria). He stands by Manolo’s side and doesn’t want Maria to do anything she doesn’t want. He legitimately loves them both.

Maria is intelligent and brave. She always has a strong sense of what is and isn’t right as far as she’s concerned. She isn’t just one of those female characters who, thanks to her rank in society, has the opportunity to learn things and is pompous about them (see Catherine Zeta-Jones in Zorro to name one). She is a woman who takes charge of her life. Who took it upon herself to broaden her horizons and chose to APPLY what she learned to real life. She isn’t just all “I’m not a prize to be won! *huffs off angrily*” she’s “Yeah, okay that’s really cute that you think you have any sway over me but I’ve got a bunch of shit I’m already doing so you’re just going to have to cool it over there.”

Manolo is so simple and compassionate. He’s made of heart. He just is. His love for his friends, his family, Maria, all living things proves to not be a weakness. So often in stories a character with such heart has a moment where they fear that their open heart and love might be a loose board in the foundation of their life, but not Manolo. He has moments instead where he goes “What should I do?!” and then his instant solution is “I should expose my heart and do what it commands.” His whole “You write your own story” bit was nice and all but the point of Manolo is not to let people make you feel that being yourself is a curse or a disease. If who you are is a romantic who believes that love and respect are the way to go then you can’t allow people scolding you for that to have any impact on you.

XIBALBA IS NOT A BAD GUY!!! So often are mythological figures given the labels of good and evil in this day and age (I was livid at the age of like 7 when Hades was portrayed as a bad guy). He was just a guy doing his job and tired of being relegated to FEELING like the bad guy. And the relationship between he and La Muerte, don’t EVEN get me started.

Then there is just the constant flow of folk lore and traditions which (as both one who studies customs and history of the Americas and one who grew up surrounded by the culture) made me unbelievably happy. Just the little touches like the sisters who fought in the revolution being the Adelita cousins (Adelita and Nina) was enough to make me squee.

In short (erm…after a sort of long post), YOU SHOULD SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!! It is unbelievably good and even if you don’t understand the culture it is just a feel good story.


Here’s a bunch of Ballroom Stuff I painted for The Book of Life. 

The design/layout of the room was done by Fred Gardner (he did the layout drawing of the full ballroom and some of the main props like the throne chair and table)

Miguel Gonzalez did a bunch of the detail designs (the stained glass window, the stone animal/flower arches and the bottles :P)

It’s all painted flat/with no lighting so it could be passed off to texture easily. Besides that: SO MANY COLORS O_O, I swear every notes pass on this room was “add more color” XD. The overall look/design of this ballroom was influenced by Gaudí's architecture. The color scheme we ended up going with is based off of La Muerte's character colors.

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