Let’s Talk About Bruno: An Encanto Deep Dive

Photo taken by author’s phone while viewing movie in her home

First things first: this post is full of spoilers. If you haven’t seen Disney’s newest animated film Encanto yet, stop everything you’re doing and immediately press play.

Full disclosure: I am not a huge movie buff. It takes a lot to win me over. This movie has done it. There is so much we could talk about when it comes to Encanto — the music, the representation, the imagery. This film is a masterpiece from top to bottom.

Let’s go deeper than the catchy bops stuck in our heads. There are some surprisingly deep themes woven throughout the movie. It’s honestly refreshing to see Disney take on issues that are so relevant to so many of us and do it in such a beautiful way.

First, we have to talk about Bruno.

The standout song from the film, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” really is the heart of the story. The Madrigal Family is adamant that no one talks about the brother/uncle who disappeared ten years prior, but what they’re really saying is, “We don’t talk about our feelings.”

The matriarch of the family, Abuela, experienced a traumatic loss early in her marriage and at the onset of her motherhood. No doubt she has been suffering from PTSD for a long time. She is given a miracle (the candle) which represents her second chance at life. The candle provides a home and bestows magical gifts on each member of the family. Abuela is determined to protect her family and new home from any hardship or tragedy that might come their way.

The house becomes a symbol for the family structures we create and the rules we live by. For the Madrigal Family, this includes every person having a specific role with no flexibility. They do not talk about negative feelings. To make Abuela comfortable, they remain silent and compliant, repressing their own desires and feelings. They are able to function under this system for a while, until the cracks start to show. The house physically begins to crack as each character slowly cracks, too.

Luisa is the first to reveal how much pressure she feels inside to keep everything afloat in the family system. Later, Isabela also reveals the pressure she feels to keep the family’s perfect image intact. But the song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” really embodies the lengths the family goes to to avoid dealing with unpleasant emotions.

Pepa opens the song by describing how Bruno allegedly ruined her wedding day. Pepa’s gift is controlling the weather with her moods. She spends her whole life assuming that her moods just happen to her, as if she has no real control over them. When Bruno says something that upsets her, it begins to rain. Instead of helping her work through her feelings, Abuela just gets umbrellas and the rain becomes a hurricane.

“Bruno says, “It looks like rain.”
In doing so, he floods my brain

Abeula, get the umbrellas
Married in a hurricane”

Decades later, Pepa still blames Bruno for ruining her wedding without realizing that better coping skills would have saved the day.

Dolores chimes in next and describes how she is the second generation affected by poor coping skills and faulty family systems. She has the gift of hearing and reveals she’s known for years that Bruno was still in the house. Does she tell anyone? No. It would be too upsetting. She just lets everyone think Bruno is missing because it’s easier than dealing with conflict.

“Grew to live in fear of Bruno stuttering or stumbling
I can always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling

It’s a heavy lift with gift so humbling
Always left Abuela and the family fumbling
Grappling with prophecies they couldn’t understand.”

Even the whole town gets in on the Bruno hate. His family was so insistent that he was bad news that everyone in town associated very normal, easy-to-predict occurrences (a goldfish eventually dying) with it being Bruno’s fault.

So what is it about Bruno that bothers Abuela and everyone else so much? He was given the gift of prophecy. He knows that events will happen that are outside the family’s control. Abuela, in her trauma and grief, cannot deal with this loss of control. It is easier for her to shut out Bruno than to deal with real life events and emotions in a healthy way.

It all comes to a head when Mirabel is the first in the family to confront Abuela about the “house” she has built. She challenges the family systems. Their confrontation brings the whole house down. What initially appears to be a devastating moment for the Madrigal Family becomes the catalyst for healing. As the literal walls come down, so do the walls Abuela has built around herself.

They reunite with Bruno and the family begins construction on their new home. Except this time, instead of the candle magically providing a finished home, the family and their community build it themselves. Such a powerful symbol of tearing down old family systems and building new ones through really hard work and the help of your community.

The movie opens with a gaggle of village children wondering what gift Mirabel has. The family mentions over and over throughout the whole movie that Mirabel was not given a gift, but we learn in the end that Mirabel IS the gift. She’s a cycle breaker. She confronts generational trauma by working to actively change things for her family. She doesn’t leave when it would have been easy to do so. She makes things better for her current family and for generations to come.

Let’s keep the conversation going! What are your thoughts on the family’s gifts and the lessons we can learn from them? What stood out most to you? Is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” stuck in your head now? Let me know!

Disclosure: all Encanto photos taken from my personal phone and television while viewing the movie. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here