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Western Animation: The Book Of Life

The Book of Life is a 2014 computer-animated film directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez of El Tigre fame, written by Doug Langdale of The Weekenders and Dave the Barbarian fame, and produced by Guillermo del Toro, with animation by Reel FX Animation Studios. It is a Romeo and Juliet-style love story set during the Day of the Dead. The film will be released on October 17th, just in time for Halloween.

The film is described as the journey of Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds, where he must face his greatest fears.

The film also features the voices of Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, and Ron Perlman.

Previews: first trailer. second trailer.

Needs Wiki Magic love.

Tropes appearing in this film:

  • Arranged Marriage: Although there's no official agreement, General Posada is clearly planning to have Maria marry Joaquin. Neither of them want to go through with it, and they don't.
  • Art Shift: The prologue is traditionally animated.
  • Award Bait Song: "I Love You Too Much" and "The Apology Song".
  • Bandito: A group of them serve as secondary antagonists.
  • Banister Slide: The trailer shows Maria doing one, possibly during a musical number.
  • Battle Couple: Manolo and Maria during the climax.
  • The Bet: La Muerte and Xibalba have one concerning who Maria will marry. The former backs Manolo, while the latter backs Joaquin. The winner will take over the Land of the Remembered.
  • Betty and Veronica: Maria is the Archie, while kind-hearted musician Manolo is the Betty and Glory Seeker soldier Joaquin is the Veronica. Both are childhood friends, a role usually reserved for the Betty.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Xibalba is the primary villain, while Chakal and his bandits pose a threat to the characters in the Land of the Living. Xibalba does a Heel-Face Turn by the climax, leaving Chakal as the Big Bad.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:Manolo and Maria just after the former comes back to life.
  • Big Good: La Muerte, ruler over the Land of the Remembered.
  • Blank Book: The Book of Life is this for those who are creating their own story, like Manolo.
  • Blood Sport: The more unsavory aspects of bullfighting are not glossed over, and Manolo's refusal to comply with them is a plot point.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Manolo and Maria.
  • Childhood Friends: Manolo, Maria and Joaquin.
  • City on the Water: San Angel sits in the middle of a lake.
  • Close-Knit Community: San Angel, the protagonists' hometown.
  • Costume Porn: Going hand in hand with the Scenery Porn.
  • Creator Cameo: Jorge voices the character Carmelo and his wife, Sandra, voices Scardelita.
  • Dark Is Evil: Xibalba, who roughly personifies the Nothing After Death.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: La Muerte, personifying the Day of the Dead, when the deceased are celebrated in a colourful party style.
  • Dem Bones: The spirits of the dead are represented as skeletons (or perhaps calaca skeleton dolls).
  • Despair Event Horizon: Manolo and Maria each get theirs when the other dies. Manolo lets Xibalba kill him in order to see Maria again, while she loses the will to oppose her father's plan to marry her to Joaquin.
  • Disney Death:
    • One bite from Xibalba's snake causes this, as Manolo and Maria find out the hard way.
    • In the climax, Manolo appears to die again after trapping himself and Chakal under a church bell to contain an explosion that would have destroyed San Angel. He's saved by Joaquin giving him the Medal of Everlasting Life beforehand.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Xibalba is clearly hoping for this - he and La Muerte aren't officially divorced, but they are estranged, and he's hoping to win back her heart.
  • Dual Wielding: Manolo and Joaquin both wear two swords on their backs, and the former uses his at least once.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Subverted. La Muerte is unambiguously good, and Xibalba is described as being more mischievous than evil (although he has his moments).
  • Evil Is Petty: Don't you dare make Xibalba lose a bet, however unintentionally.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Xibalba is played by Ron Perlman. This is something of a given.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Excluding the Framing Device and prologue, the whole movie takes place over two days.
  • Family Business: Manolo comes from a long line of bullfighters on his father's side.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Manolo's father steers him away from the guitar to continue the family tradition of bullfighting.
  • Fastball Special: Manolo throws Maria at Chakal during a fight between the townspeople and the bandits.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: Played with; La Muerte and Xibalba are both Gods of the Dead, but while Xibalba is dark and menacing with black wings and skulls for pupils, La Muerte is much lighter and more appealing, as befits the bright, positive realm she rules over.
  • Final Love Duet: "No Matter Where You Are."
  • Framing Device: The main story is told to a group of schoolchildren by a museum tour guide reading from the Book of Life.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Characters from El Tigre appear in a crowd shot in the 2D animated prologue.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Manolo and Joaquin remain close friends despite their feelings for Maria.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The spirits have yellow ones.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The eponymous Book of Life, which supposedly contains accounts of all events that have ever transpired.
  • God Couple: Xibalba and La Muerte were once this, but they've become estranged by the start of the film.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Maria does two. First she saves Manolo from Xibalba's snake, and later she agrees to marry Joaquin so San Angel will be protected.
    • After being resurrected, Manolo traps himself and Chakal under a church bell with a lit pack of dynamite to save San Angel from the subsequent explosion.
    • Just before this, Joaquin secretly gives Manolo the Medal of Everlasting Life so he can survive the battle and marry Maria. Without protection, he loses an eye and his mustache in the explosion.
  • Humans Are Special: La Muerte believes this, and her willingness to prove it is why she agrees to The Bet.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Both main female characters, Maria and La Muerte.
  • Impossible Task: Xibalba gives Manolo a yet-unspecified number of these to complete in order to be reunited with Maria. It's actually a Snipe Hunt.
  • In the Doldrums: The Land of the Forgotten is a dark, near-featureless plane.
  • Instrument of Murder: Manolo is seen using his guitar as a sword at one point.
  • "I Want" Song: "Creep" for Manolo.
  • I Will Wait for You: Manolo and Joaquin wait ten years for Maria to return from Europe.
  • Jerkass Gods: Played straight with Xibalba, but subverted with La Muerte.
  • Lady and Knight: Manolo and Joaquin are the White Knights to Maria's Bright Lady.
  • Large and in Charge: Chakal, the king of the bandits, is a giant compared to his men.
  • Lightning Reveal: Manolo's skeleton form is first revealed this way, just before he asks Xibalba to kill him.
  • Love at First Note: Not the first time they've met, but Maria's Love Epiphany towards Manolo is triggered when she first hears him sing.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: General Posada detests Manolo and wants Maria to marry Joaquin instead. In the end, he finally relents.
  • Love Triangle: Between Manolo, Maria and Joaquin.
  • Magic Staff: Xibalba wields a staff resembling a two-headed snake which he can bring to life.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: La Muerte and Xibalba first make The Bet when they see Manolo, Maria and Joaquin playing together as children.
  • Missing Mom: Manolo's mother Carmen dies before the events of the film. He later meets her in the Land of the Remembered, and she accompanies him on his journey.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: A rare example of an outside party doing the murdering. When it looks like Xibalba is going to lose The Bet, he has Manolo killed via snake bite. While it technically works, it turns out to be far from the last word on the subject.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: All of the songs are performed by the characters themselves, practiced and performed in real time, rather than just being random asides like in (say) Disney movies.
  • Nice Hat: La Muerte boasts an absolutely enormous one, bedecked with candles, marigolds, feathers and skulls. If she weren't a god, there is no way that thing would stay on her head.
  • Nonhuman Sidekick: Chuy, Maria's pet pig.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out exactly how La Muerte and Xibalba became estranged. Allusions are made to Xibalba cheating to win a previous wager, but no other details are given.
  • One Head Taller: Manolo and Joaquin are both noticeably taller than Maria.
  • One True Love: Manolo and Maria.
  • Orphean Rescue: Manolo thinks he's doing this for Maria when Xibalba sends him to the Land of the Remembered. In reality, he's the one who's been killed.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: Manolo is killed by a bite from Xibalba's snake, kicking off the plot.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: La Muerte's dress is covered in embroidery and marigolds, spreads out across the ground and is bordered at the hem with lit candles.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Manolo says this about being reunited with Maria after her apparent death. Xibalba responds by sending him to the afterlife.
  • The Power of Love: A major theme of the film.
    Del Toro: Itís the story of two lovers who refuse to be separated by anything...It's about love not giving up.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: "The Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly will be used at one point.
  • Resurrected Romance: What Manolo is hoping to accomplish.
  • Say My Name:
    • Joaquin loves to shout his own name during combat.
    • When Manolo dies, the last thing he says is Maria's name.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: La Muerte becomes trapped in the Land of the Forgotten when Manolo dies, as she has lost the bet by default. Manolo must journey there to find her and tell her that Xibalba cheated.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Manolo's primary tactic for winning Maria's heart.
  • Setting Update: The plot can be described as "Orpheus and Eurydice in turn-of-the-century Mexico during the Day of the Dead!"
  • She Is All Grown Up:
    • The main plot is kicked off when Maria returns to San Angel after several years studying abroad.
    • Maria herself has a moment like this when she sees Manolo singing "Creep."
  • Single-Target Sexuality:
    • Manolo and Joaquin towards Maria, especially the latter, who's popular with many women.
    • Heavily implied of Xibalba towards his estranged wife, La Muerte.
  • Sore Loser: Xibalba, who would rather kill an innocent human than lose a wager.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Maria sarcastically brings this idea up when discussing a hypothetical marriage to Joaquin with him. He's too preoccupied with her looks to notice her disdain for what she's saying and unknowingly agrees with her, which briefly drives her off.
  • Straw Misogynist: Joaquin's group of Yes Men act like this in one scene to accidentally make him look bad in front of Maria.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Manolo's father is essentially an older version of him with a mustache and smaller eyes.
  • Taking the Bullet: When Xibalba's snake first attacks Manolo, Maria pushes him out of the way and gets bitten herself, resulting in her apparent death.
  • Transformation Sequence: Manolo gets one when the gods bring him back to life.
  • Trapped in Another World: Manolo's predicament.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Manolo, Joaquin and Maria.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Manolo proposes to Maria by making a pathway out of candles to guide her to a tree on the outskirts of town, where he performs a song for her. It doesn't work out, but not in the usual way.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: Maria and Joaquin's wedding is interrupted by the bandits. After the Final Battle, it resumes with Manolo as the groom instead.


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