Day of the Dead comes alive in colorful Mexican tale 'Book of Life'
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Growing up in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, animator Jorge Gutierrez waited to see his people appear in Hollywood's animated fare.
"I never saw myself or my family or my friends up on the screen in animation," Gutierrez said. "I kept waiting for the Latina princess to show up, and she never did."
Gutierrez embarked on a 14-year journey to make "The Book of Life," out in U.S. theaters on Friday, drawing on Mexican art and wooden puppets to animate a colorful love story rooted in the Mexican Day of the Dead festivities.
"The Book of Life," a co-production of Reel FX Creative Studios and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc's Twentieth Century Fox studios, follows childhood friends Manolo (Diego Luna), Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and Maria (Zoe Saldana).
The kids become the subjects of a playful bet between the vivacious La Muerte and the conniving Xibalba, rulers of the underworld realms, who each pick which boy will win Maria's heart.
La Muerte reigns over the Land of the Remembered, a never-ending fiesta town painted in a burst of luminous colors, and Xibalba oversees the bleak Land of the Forgotten, a world where souls turn to dust as they are forgotten by the living.
As the three children grow up, Manolo follows his family tradition of bull fighting but refuses to kill a bull or give up music, while Joaquin becomes an indestructible warrior with help from Xibalba. Then there is Maria, the strong-willed beauty who Gutierrez says is "no damsel in distress."
"There are more Marias out there than ever before," said Saldana. "Art is beginning to imitate life and have a much more accurate depiction of real life characters more frequently. Maria to me is my sisters, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors, women that I read about, women that I admire." Continued...