The Book of Life (2014)

The Book of Life Poster

The journey of Manolo, 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 Book of Life" (2014) is a computer system animated movie by 20th Century Fox and Reel FX Animation Studios. This innovative function, directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, explores the abundant culture and traditions of Mexico with the Day of the Dead as its core theme. It is a lively and whimsical film that integrates folklore, dream, love, and humour.

Plot Overview
The film starts with a museum guide leading a group of children through a secret display about the Day of the Dead, unveiling a magical book that explores the journey of Manolo, Joaquin, and Maria. It introduces 2 immortal gods, La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, who bet on who Maria would marry-- Manolo or Joaquin. Manolo originates from a long family tree of bullfighters, while Joaquin is the town's valiant hero, who has been bestowed an effective medal by Xibalba to rig the bet in his favor.

The Love Triangle & The Challenge
Maria, the increasingly independent and strong-willed love interest of Manolo and Joaquin, goes back to their town of San Angel after studying abroad. The 3 youth pals are reunited, firing up a rivalry in between Manolo and Joaquin for Maria's heart. Amidst the romantic tensions, an array of difficulties hit, including a huge outlaw and his gang, creating chaos.

In order to win Maria's heart, Manolo deals with a fatal difficulty. Influenced by the devious Xibalba, Manolo is deceived into thinking that Maria is dead and chooses to join her in the afterlife. He's sent to the beautiful Land of the Remembered in which he reconnects with his deceased forefathers.

Manolo's Journey in the Underworld
In the afterlife, Manolo finds Maria is not dead and seeks to go back to the living world. After learning about Xibalba's deceit, La Muerte penalizes him by switching realms. Manolo's journey takes him to the dismal Land of the Forgotten, where he confronts Xibalba. He challenges Xibalba to a wager, if he wins, he might return back to his world and if he loses, he 'd remain in the Land of the Forgotten.

The Final Clash and Conclusion
Manolo beats Xibalba's challenges, going back to San Angel in time to conserve Maria and the town from the bandits' attack. Manolo's empathy and nerve sway Maria's heart, welcoming love over heroism, and they are finally wed. Xibalba, penalized for his deceit, is forgiven by La Muerte, and they share an enthusiastic kiss, reviving their love. Manolo brings peace in between his desire for music and his household's bullfighting tradition, celebrating the Day of the Dead by singing, appreciating, and remembering his ancestors.

Impression and Influence
"The Book of Life" masterfully weaves culture, love, life, and death in a vibrant tapestry that both informs and amuses. Its beauty depends on the elegant animation, the representation of Mexican culture and its Dia de Los Muertos custom. The film shines with its distinct visual style, the depth of its characters, and the universal themes it takes on. It highlights the value of staying real to oneself, cherishing family and origins, and celebrating life while acknowledging death.

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