Manolo Sánchez (voice of Diego Luna) has a dilemma. Should he be a bullfighter as is his family tradition or should he follow his heart and be a musician? He is in love with Maria (voice of Zoe Saldana) and his competition is the soldier Joaquin (voice of Chaning Tatum). Joaquin, too, loves Maria.
This animated movie,, directed by Jorge Gutierrez, is set in Mexico and focuses on The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), the traditional time (at the end of October) to remember those who have died. The three-day celebration begins on Halloween.
Despite the setting on that holiday and some very macabre characters, The Book of Life is visually pleasing with vibrant colors and terrific Mexican-style art. We learn early on of the Mexican belief that the dead remain alive — in one way — as long as we remember. The afterlife in this movie is either the dark and gloomy — but not hot and fiery — Land of the Forgotten, ruled by Xibalba (Ron Perlman) or the Land of the Remembered, ruled by the beautiful La Muerte (Kate del Castillo).
Xibalba and La Muerte bet on which man will win Maria’s heart. Both guys are peace—loving — Manolo will fight a bull but not kill one. Joaquin was given the Medal of Everlasting Life by Xibalba. Manolo discovers what Xibalba has been up to when he has to go to the Land of the Remembered.
The movie’s atmosphere is light, non-threatening, teaching the audience that death is a natural part of life. The terrific soundtrack features Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Kate del Castillo and Eugenio Derbez.
The Book of Life is one of the most beautiful films you’ll ever see.
The trailer provides a good look at what the movie is in terms of style and art work: