Encanto and Magical Realism

Disney’s 2021 film Encanto is having a huge cultural moment and its popularity can be a great way to introduce your students to the magical realism genre that is deeply intertwined in this film. This style is largely associated with Latin American writers such as Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, and Jorge Luis Borges and mixes realistic fiction with “fantastic or mythical elements.” One of the most iconic books of the genre, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is “not an easy book to read, but it’s a deeply rewarding one” according to TEDed’s short video explaining its importance in the literary cannon, which makes the point that magical realism is a tool used by Latin American writers to try to convey the complexity of living in a post-colonial era that continues to repeat its own mistakes.
There are a large variety of approaches to introduce your students to this concept, including recommended reading lists (Latinx centered books found here and picks from the Des Moines Public Library here) exploring lesson plans (one via EDSITEment here for grades 9-12 and teaching Like Water for Chocolate for fiction writing), and study guides for other films in the genre (Love in the Time of Cholera).