The Book Of Life – The Apology Song

Can we talk about this scene for a sec? Because I did not quite expect it to unfold like this (mind the spoilers).

Manolo loses the handle of both sword and guitar; he reaches out and, after some hesitation, picks up the guitar — alright, most people probably called it. So we know he’s going to sing to the bull.

Maybe I was naive and/or short sighted, maybe I underestimated the script, I don’t know. But I expected Manolo to pull a Hiccup and say he was not like the others, that he wasn’t going to hurt the bull. Or to tell the bull to just let go of its anger because it wasn’t worth it. Or even to explain about the whole bet thing and his love for Maria and say he didn’t mean any harm. Whatever the case, it seemed he would somehow get the bull to cooperate by surrendering, because he had already learned the lesson about not killing the bull earlier in the film and thus would be shielded by protagonist privileges (as in, no matter what he chose to do it would be okay because he was noble for refusing to kill).

I did not, however, expect Manolo to downright apologise. It caught me completely off guard. He acknowledged both the unfairness of the bullfights — I think possibly on an even higher level than earlier, because this time he had to confront the sheer number of animals killed by his family — and that the bull’s anger was justified; he basically understood his opponent(s) had been wronged and validated their feelings. So he showed compassion, established himself as an ally and protector, and  therefore offered the bull(s) a chance to intimately heal. 

And maybe it’s just me, but the song somewhat resembles a prayer in lyrics, wording, and melody, and as such adds a spirituality that contributes to the overall sentiment of the scene. So it goes right to your core. There were even some sniffles around the audience when I was watching the movie. I actually had a lump in my throat right then and there but shhhh don’t tell my friend.

That’s something we don’t see that often in media, in my opinion, specially if aimed at children. In a different movie such scenario would probably have been solved by the “hero is noble and thus always right” device I cited above; as it is, I think The Book of Life displayed more sensibility than usual, because it not only added layers to the main character, but also took the time to actually focus on the part that was mistreated.

yeah, a huge dead burning cow was the part of this movie that made me cry.

The creator is very against bullfighting, which is a controversial stance given its cultural importance, but the practice is pretty heinously cruel.