Isabela Madrigal is undoubtedly the golden child in Disney’s Encanto, but the film was hiding a disturbing detail in her room all along. At the beginning of Encanto, it seems like Isabela Madrigal (Diane Guerrero) has everything going for her. She can create flowers out of thin air, she’s about to get married, and the townspeople all love her. Even the film’s script is especially flattering to her, detailing how flowers bloom all around her like an “angel.” However, things aren’t what they seem with Isabela. And it’s not until Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz) sings with her in “What Else Can I Do?” that the audience learns Isabela is miserable trying to live up to her family’s expectations.
Family pressure is a significant theme in Encanto. Mirabel is a prime example. She didn’t get a special power or gift, so she tries especially hard to prove herself to her family and make her Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero) proud. Even powers don’t make it easy, though. Luisa (Jessica Darrow) pushes above and beyond to use her strength to help with the family’s burdens. But no matter how much Luisa helps, she’ll never be strong enough to live up to the lofty expectations.
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Though Isabela’s life seemed perfect early on, there was a disturbing detail hiding in Encanto. In Art of Encanto, Camille Andre, an environments art director on the film, explains the details that went into Isabela’s room. According to Andre, Isabela’s room is full of pink and pastel colors to give the impression that she’s “princess-like.” She later breaks free from all the pressure her family puts on her, and the Encanto character’s room becomes colorful and expressive. Andre explained, “An example of elements that make her feel trapped are the curtains that surround her.” So while the audience saw Isabela surrounded by beautiful curtains of flowers, the drapery had a much different meaning to the character.
Encanto is largely about perspective. Though Mirabel felt like she was the outcast of the family for not having magic, she learns that her family members feel just as inadequate in the film. It’s the same with Isabela’s curtains. Though the curtains in her room are undoubtedly beautiful, that’s not how she sees them. To Isabela, the curtains have a sinister meaning, keeping her boxed into her supposedly perfect world of unrealistic expectations. “I’m so sick of pretty. I want something true,” Isabela sings in “What Else Can I Do?“
Art of Encanto similarly has other revelations about Isabela. Isabela almost had another suitor besides Mariano (Maluma) in the film. However, Disney cut the city-dwelling character. In the end, Isabela’s journey isn’t about a man. It’s more about her discovering herself and coming into her own. She’s a creative person at heart, and now she doesn’t have the constraints of an unwanted relationship or suffocating flower curtains to hold her back in Encanto.
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