So I might be a little obsessed with this movie now. This is mostly so I can get that outta my system. (Also, I have literally zero knowledge of Spanish so I mostly left that out.)


House and Home

Magic was awoken by fear. Strong fear, silencing the animals and eclipsing the gurgle of the stream that flowed through Magic's forest.

A group of humans, tiny, flawed and beautiful creatures, was fleeing from a smaller group. Magic would scoff if it could, it had always frowned upon the strife among humans. Despite this Magic still held a soft spot for the little things. It would like to see humans happy, because they had such potential for good, such potential for magic in them. They could be such wonderful creatures of love.

But this fear, this panic, had Magic concerned. It drew closer to the surface, careful, but ready to help if and where it could.

The bigger, panicking group was on foot. Stumbling through the dark of Magic's forest paths and scrambling away from the four riders pursuing. The riders were shouting and hollering in ugly voices. And Magic feared for the refugees, for the riders hearts were tainted. Ruined and blackened by killing.

Magic would not allow such foul souls into its forest, would not allow bloodshed to occur here. So it searched for an anchor, a point to act, to interfere from.

And it found a family.

Amidst the fleeing humans stood a family of five, like a rock amidst the waves. One light, one little candle, amongst the dark. Safe and secure in their love for each other. And while the young mother was also filled with fear for her children, for her family – a fear all the more stronger as it was born of love – the father was at peace.

Magic recognized a mind and soul that had come to a decision. It focused on these humans, this little family. It watched as the father anchored himself in his love and kissed each of his three little babies and finally his wife. It watched as he stepped back and turned. It watched as he blocked the path of the riders.

The human – Pedro – sent one final prayer to whoever would listen. And Magic heard.

It heard his wish to stall the riders, to keep his family safe and happy.

And bolstered by Pedro's sacrifice and the mother's - Alma's - despair and both parents' love for their children, their family, Magic could act.

And it gave them a miracle – an encanto.


When Magic had saved the Madrigals, it had gifted them a house – an extension of itself - and Alma had gifted it a name.

Casita.

Casita was ecstatic. It had never had a name before. Granted, it had never shown itself like it had to humans before either. But that was not the point! Casita had been deeply moved by the Madrigals' love and had taken them under its wings. It would care for them now.

And part of that was the gifting of magic of their own. Of course, it couldn't do so directly. It needed a medium and Alma had been carrying the perfect thing: the candle. The ever-burning light acted, similar to the house, as an extension of Casita, a vessel of sorts. This and their proximity to Casita would allow it to bestow them with special abilities. The family members would grow in body and magic and help their community thrive. Casita was sure of it.

But Casita also saw the shadow of fear still clinging to Alma's heart. Fear of again losing their home and their loved ones. It saw Alma take on the burden of being head of the community, keeping everyone together and keeping order, while also raising three children on her own. Casita knew that shadow of fear would grow and fester, because that is sadly how humans are. The shadow would in time threaten Casita's miracle granted onto the Madrigals.

The rules for Magic's involment with humans were strict, after all. Casita's miracle was something granted with the wish for safety and happiness. And it was the happiness part that invited cracks, because fear is not and will never be the best soil to nurish happiness.

Casita had to steer against this.

The first step was to give little Bruno the gift of forsight.

Casita had immediatly thought of giving forsight to one of the children. After all, if humans can see an unfortunate future they will take steps to avoid it. It was simple. And Bruno was the perfect candidate. He was not as emotional as Pepa – too much emotion clouds judgement – and not quite as emphatic as Julieta – she would have grown afraid of seeing. It was perfectly simple.

Until it wasn't.

Bruno lived up to Casita's expectations. He kept quiet about most visions he saw. After all why ruin a good happenstance by predicting it? He told people about things to avoid or warned them when necessary. And otherwise only told them about their futures when asked directly.

Maybe it was this that stayed in the minds of people: when Bruno tells you about one of his prophecies, bad things will follow.

And that was why Bruno didn't ever live up to Alma's expectations.

Casita was heartbroken every time it saw Bruno disappearing into his tower. Casita had no control there, but that didn't mean it didn't know what happened there either. It so wanted to help lighten the boy's thoughts and burdens. For years Casita watched as Bruno's heart cracked a bit more every day. But even so, his love for his family held strong. And Casita knew it was not wrong to hold on to the Madrigals.


So one generation was not enough.

The shadows grew. Alma's fear, Bruno's shame and sadness, and the people's reliance on the Madrigals. The pressure kept increasing.

Casita feared things had to be broken first in order to fix them.


Things got worse every year.

Casita granted Alma's grandchildren their gifts one by one.

Watched Isabela work herself to the bone for unreachable standards of perfection.

Watched Dolores clutching her ears, trying to tune out the world to for once focus on her thoughts.

Watched Luisa buckling under the pressure – literally and figurativly – everyone threw on her.

Watched Camilo losing more and more of himself when everyone always needed him to be someone else.

And…

And then came Mirabel.

Sweet, sunny little Mirabel.

Casita adored the girl. She was so full of hope, so full of love! She was an oasis in the crumbling family, so full of light that seemed to chase away the darkness in everybody's cracks. She could bring out the best in others. Mirabel was pure and exactly what the Madrigals needed.

And Casita hated itself for what it had to do.

Because for things to work out, Casita had to… not give Mirabel a gift.

Objectively speaking, it was actually quite simple: the family Madrigal had become so reliant on their gifts that only someone without one could see each of them for who they are, rather than for what they can do. Mirabel was the perfect candidate to do this. Even now at the tender age of five, Casita could see how the girl's creative mind and caring soul would pave her way in the future. And… maybe a part of Casita didn't want to see her sweet little Mirabel suffer under what should have been a blessing. The girl was special enough even without a magical gift!

Granted, not having a special ability would bring its own challenges. Casita hoped with every fiber of its being that Mirabel was strong enough to keep her light burning bright.

So on the advent of Mirabel's gift celebration, Casita steeled itself and…

… let the door fade and the candle flicker.

(Didn't mean Casita didn't hate every second of making her little butterfly suffer.)


Casita was trying hard not to think about little Mirabel crying in her mother's arms in the nursery – now Mirabel's permanent room.

Instead, it focused on Alma and Bruno. The old matriarch had just, as expected by Casita, asked her son to check what the whole occurence meant for the future of the family. And Bruno, who hadn't used his gifts in months now, readily agreed when he heard "for our family".

Casita could not interfere directly with the vision, of course, but it could offer a glimpse of its plan through deeper, older magic. Bruno correctly understood that the magic, the miracle itself, was in trouble and that little Mirabel would be the one to decide which way the future would go.

But the doubt was too strong. Not just in Bruno, but perhaps in all of the family. Bruno assumed – possibly correctly – which way everybody would take his revelation.

So that night, after Bruno shattered his latest prophecy, he snuck into the nursery. He took a seat on his niece's bed and just looked at the little sunspot. She was asleep, out cold with tear tracks still visible on her cheeks.

"Oh Mirabel", Bruno had whispered. "I wish you didn't have to go through this."

Gently he brushed some of her wild locks out of her face. "I don't know what to do. I can't stay, not if our family'll pin whatever is happening on you!" His voice cracked and in the silent room Casita waited. "But where will I go? I love our family, a-and I want to keep an eye on you…"

Here Casita could help. A floorboard creaked slightly and tapped Bruno's foot. Confused he looked down as the floorboards rearranged to form a path out of the nursery.

Bruno cocked his head and followed. "Where are you leading me Casita", he mumbled.

And if Casita rearranged some plants and walls that night to ensure nobody caught sight of Bruno, well, it was a magical house. Nobody questioned why Casita did anything.

And that was how Bruno came to live in Casita's walls. It wasn't 100% happy about it, but Casita wouldn't let Bruno leave on his own either. Casita watched as Bruno learned how to sneak food (Casita helped a lot) and helped misdirect sound so Dolores couldn't pinpoint him. And it also watched the longing surface in his eyes at every meal, glancing through a tiny crack at those he loved so so much and noticed how his lips moved along with the family's chant of their name. And not for the first time did Casita wish it had a human body so it could bundle little Bruno up in hugs and never let him go.


As Mirable grew, so did the family. Apart, that is.

Each year the chasms between the family members grew deeper and darker. Luisa saw the townspeople more than she saw her own family with how busy she was. Camilo joked less and less as himself and more and more like others would. Isabela cared less and less about anyone and anything other than her perfection. Dolores shut herself in and everything else out more and more. And Bruno got ever closer to insanity from the prolonged isolation. (Though Casita had to admit, the tele novelas Bruno had the rats act out were quite interesting...)

And Mirabel…

… she tried harder and harder to earn her place in her family – or rather in Abuela Alma's eyes.

It made Casita hurt in ways a magical house should not even be able to hurt. None of them had anything to prove, had anything to earn! They should not be hurting like this!

And when on the eve of Antonio's gift celebration Mirabel broke down, Casita couldn't take it anymore. The house trembled.

The cracks showed.

Mirabel showed her cracks and Casita showed its own. Those that had been growing and spreading beneath the surface for a while now. And Mirabel, little bright and determined Mirabel had made up her mind to help.


Things seemed to work. It really seemed to work!

Luisa's step was lighter after her talk with Mirabel. (Right up until the panic of her gift fizzling out set in.) Bruno actually talked to some of his family, left the walls and used his gift again. Isabela and Mirabel actually made up! And Casita could feel some of the cracks mend with every step the family took towards understanding each other.

But then…

It was just too much. Abuela Alma's fear reared its ugly head, smothering Isabela and Luisa's progress. Accusing Mirabel of being responsible for the cracks. And worse. Accusing her of not caring, even hurting her family on purpose.

This was the point. The point where something shattered in Mirabel, where anger and despair churned in her gut. Where Alma let her fear rule her and see enemies where there was only family.

This was the point where Casita resigned itself to break. To have the house crumble, to let the magic fade back under the earth and let the candle die out.

Casita saw no way to salvage things.

But yet again it was the family's little light that pulled Casita's attention. It was Mirabel, who didn't give up on her family. Who saw that yes, they were broken and imperfect, but that didn't mean they deserved to lose their gifts. Little, determined Mirabel who dashed to save the candle.

And the hope in her heart, desperatly clinging to hold on to something, gave hope to Casita.

It was a gamble, giving the last spark of magic in the candle to Mirabel. Just a tiny spark, barely noticable at all. But it was there. And if there was any way the family would reconcile, Casita could act through that spark. And if anybody could find a way to reunite the family Madrigal, to make them remember what and who the gifts, the miracles were for, then that person was Mirabel.

So it was this hope that Casita clung to as it used the last of its power and resources to ensure Mirabel's safety in the crumbling house.


And would you look at that – Casita's gamble turned out right.

The small spark jumped over from Mirabel into the newly rebuilt casa de Madrigal, connecting Casita again with the family Madrigal and bringing the magic back to the surface.

Casita could not be happier as the whole family, each and every one, gathered together under its roof.

(So what if Casita started a musical number with its tiles and shutters and didn't stop the music until late the next morning… it wasn't like the party didn't also last until then.)