The annual Mexican celebration, Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), is a time when families gather to honor and remember deceased loved ones. It is believed that the souls of the dead return to visit the living families in homes, businesses and cemeteries. The Aztec honored their dead with fiestas and rituals during the harvest season. They viewed death as the beginning of the cycle of seasons and life.
Día de Muertos festivity takes place at the end of October and November 1st and 2nd each year in Mexico. This is a joyful festivity for families and the community. Music is played at home and at the cemeteries. October 28th is the day of the Accidentados, those souls that died in accidents. On October 31st we honor the souls of children, called los angelitos. On November 1st, we remember the spirits of adults. The spirits are believed to depart the following day, November 2nd. Entire Mexican families construct traditional ofrendas (altars, offerings) that reflect a mixture of Catholicism and ancient Mexican/Aztec cultural practices. The altars vary greatly, depending on village and regional traditions. In the homes, much effort goes into preparing traditional foods.
In honor of this fun, colorful ritual, we have found a list for 5 Day of the Dead movies you need to see to give you more insight on the festivities and their meaning to the culture. This same website also has more on tradition, recipes, history and more! Who knows, if you haven’t already adapted this wonderful tradition, maybe you will be inspired to do so next year or at least, have a better understanding around the classic celebration.
One such wonderful area that’s ripe with creativity is animation, and one of the most fantastical examples is Coco which places Mexican culture and tradition at centerstage in the best possible way. As such, it has opened Americans up to the holiday to an extent where it is now far more broadly celebrated in households than ever before. This all too humorous film, that many people will happily tell you is absolutely for the whole family, relies heavily on real life customs that are found throughout Mexico.
James Bond’s Spectre
When you mention the Day of the Dead to someone who lives outside of Latin America, fairly often one of their biggest points of reference is the opening sequence in James Bond’s Spectre, where the movie score mixes almost spellbindingly with an extravagant Day of the Dead parade, all of which takes place in Mexico city’s historic downtown district. It’s an amazing tracking shot that goes on for a full 4 minutes and makes you feel as though you are right in the festivities.
The Book of Life
This is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and, to this end, allows the audience to wonder on a personal level about the possible meanings that accompany the Day of the Dead. The interesting thing about it is that, despite the fact that the main focus is Mexican culture, it has a distinctly European warmth and air about it that gives it a fairy tale like quality. In many ways it looks like a movie that takes place in Spain and, as such, it highlights how the Day of the Dead gained international recognition after blending Mexican culture with European leanings.
Macario may be characterized as a fantastical drama and as such it is anything but a typical film. It’s actually an adaptation of a novel by Bruno Traven who, in turn, adopted it from a Grimm brothers tale. It was a great success and became the first film shot in Mexico to be nominated for an Oscar.
The story takes place in the 18th century when Mexico was still being called New Spain. It serves as a wonderful introduction to the moodiness that’s associated with the Day of the Dead while at the same time appears to he potently cinematic.
To get more information on Di De Los Muretos, visit: Day of the Dead Holiday