Pixar's Coco: Storyform Analysis

Just realized Mike gave away the element that saps Miguel’s drive at the beginning of the conversation.

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Would the strategy of trying to connect with Ernesto De La Cruz be Miguel’s CF? Even if he got EDLC’s blessing, it would not have helped because they are presumably not family after all. And though this strategy leads to Hectors murder being solved, it also leads to Miguel being tossed into a pit.

…actually, that might be more in the OS? Maybe his strategy of hiding his music stuff is his critical flaw. If he had played in front of grandma Coco at the beginning instead of hiding Dante and his guitar under the ofrenda he could have saved himself a lot of trouble.


I really like this explanation. It’s more personal to him and something we see from the very beginning.

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I think that’s a really good way of looking at it, because (as you expanded) – it would have had a much different effect had it come out earlier.

But where it is, I wouldn’t say it “saps his motivation” but rather proves his side of the argument, since it’s at the end.

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Good point. Reason I used “saps his motivation” was to avoid using the term “Solution” since he’s a Steadfast character. I was just pointing out that his problem was already given in the thread all along. But “proves his side of the argument” is a much better way of looking at it for sure given that it’s what the rest of the story built up to.

Sorry for the late response. I love the storyform choices. I felt that the lower-right concerns are definitely stronger than lower-left. When I was trying to shift my storymind to the lower-left concerns in my previous post, I struggled to find even those three potential examples of Héctor’s Concern as Subconscious. Also, Attraction is perfect for the Issue in Miguel’s throughline.

On a different note, I’m curious about how Héctor’s resolve is illustrated, especially since Miguel is Steadfast.

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Re-evaluation - we don’t think you’re a jerk anymore. (and he reassesses himself as well)

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When Mama Imelda takes him back. Weird but pretty cool how his change is shown through another character.


Excellent example. And actually it’s quite helpful to see how you arrived at that pointing at the dissonance between overall story and his own personal throughlines as haha, yes; he totally could have just played in front of coco which is actually really helpful for patients dealing with Alzheimer’s.

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I left the movie thinking that the take home message was summarized in Miguel’s line that family is what’s important (i.e. conform to the collective; don’t follow your self-interested individual dreams; damn, what a delightful message). If there was an undoing or “take back” of that, then it was subtle at best–and I only considered that he could have implicitly taken that back after reading the comments on this site, and it seems like a stretch since he never said “no, I was wrong about family being more important” or something to that effect.

It reminds me of the Toy Story Dilemma in some ways.

  1. Buzz/Miguel has an outlook initially: I’m a real astronaut / music is my dream and is more important to me than family approval.
  2. Buzz/Miguel gives up this outlook and adopts the opposite: I realize I’m a toy (falling with style) / family is what’s important (my dream is secondary).
  3. At the very end, Buzz/Miguel is still apparently acting like original Buzz / original Miguel.

Yet Buzz has a change resolve while Miguel has a steadfast resolve. If the key criterion is explicitly adopting the opposite perspective (even if it’s vaguely attenuated in an epilogue), then I would call them both change characters.

Where in the movie does this line get said? What parts it close to so I can go watch just that part?

I think it’s possible to be doing approximately the same thing, but still have a changed resolve, because the inner you as changed so significantly that you’re doing it for different reasons. Consider the differences between the Buzz at the start of Toy Story and the one at the end: the first really, truly believes he’s a space ranger, and the reason he acts the way he does boils down to being a good space ranger; whereas at the end, after his moment of realization when watching the commercials and attempting to fly, he acts the way he does to be a good toy. Like he says, he understand now that while he can’t fly, he can still “fall with style.”

Whereas with Miguel, his central desire is to be independent. He doesn’t rebel from his family because he doesn’t like them; he rebels because they won’t let him be independent. Once his family lets go, he can be independent all he wants, and his family will support him.

I wrote a story once about this woman whose mentor died, but she couldn’t find the tears to cry about it, because she was a very logical, rational person. At the end of the story, she still doesn’t cry, but her framing around her grief completely changes, and she’s able to accept the heartache she’d been repressing. The key thing about a change in resolve isn’t that the character’s actions change, but the desires that drive them.


why stop and not start?

At the 1:18:25 mark (i.e. with 26:43 left).

I think you’re saying I should compare the character at the end to the same character at the beginning. Is that right? I was getting confused by his “family comes first” reply to “no more music?” While watching it, it felt very “Attention! This is the story beat that tells you that the MC’s resolve is change! He now prioritizes his family’s/ancestor’s wishes over his own!”

Instead of feeling like a steadfast resolve, I feel like that was a change that was followed later by his grandmother’s change (while he was playing the song to his great-grandmother). It seemed like the grandmother’s change removed the disciplinary/practical obstacle to Miguel doing music–and it was only that removal of her pressure that gave him “permission” to pursue his music not any clear unchanging by Miguel. In other words, the movie ends without a clear signal from Miguel that, “you know, I was wrong when I temporarily thought family trumped the individual.”

It seems like there are 2 very different ways one can be steadfast, and these 2 ways can radically change the meaning of the story. That is, I feel like the meaning of a story with this same storyform & steadfast resolve would be very different if Miguel had never conceded. The message of such an “unwavering MC” Coco would be “follow your dreams, be true to yourself, remain persistent even if your whole family disagrees.” Whereas the real Coco’s message seems like “give in a little bit, compromise & change, and then your opponent will also give in, compromise, & change, and then your changing will be rewarded with her permission to do what you originally wanted.”

TL;DR I feel like having a “temporary change” or “change that leads to changing your opponent” can make a big difference in the story’s meaning.

So you’re bringing up the concept of compromise, which complicates the Change vs. Steadfast binary of Dramatica somewhat. However, I think in any story, depending on the framing, one side of the compromise will always appear to be a major, significant change, while the other will be the character losing minor battles to win the war. Miguel doesn’t know it at the start, but music is in fact the legacy of his family, and his desire to play music is honoring that legacy, as opposed to his mother attempting to stifle it. When he temporarily accepts the “no more music” proviso, it’s for the greater purpose of restoring and reinforcing Hector’s legacy. Not to mention, by making this temporary sacrifice, he’s able to remind Coco of her father and in doing so remind the family that music was a magic that could keep them together, even when Hector was miles away. So sacrificing his music was the only way for Miguel to be able to continue playing music.

So just like you said, we can compare and contrast the beginning and ending to see who changed and who didn’t. The story starts with Miguel playing the guitar and his family hating music, and it ends with Miguel playing the guitar and his family accepting music. The costs and struggles in between beginning and end are all smaller conflicts in the larger narrative. Readers may interpret “succeeds without small changes between beginning and end” and “succeeds with small changes between beginning and end” slightly differently, but for the purposes of the storyform, they’re equivalent.


Family comes before music, but he still wants to play music. His proactive element hasn’t changed. Proactively playing for Coco is how they learn that Coco doesn’t hate music.

And if we really got down to it, I’d suggest that scene is probably an Os and/or Rs scene. Maybe even Ic. But probably not part of the MC perspective. But that’s just a guess right now. I’d have to rewatch the whole thing to be willing to argue that idea further.


Building on @actingpower and @Greg’s awesome responses, I think that the following thread might help with the confusion over Resolve:

Especially helpful may be Mike Lucas’s post:

For an example of completely changing and changing back, take “The Devil Wears Prada.” Andy temporarily adopts Miranda’s perspective, only to go back to her original perspective at the end of the film.


Sorry for coming back to such an old thread, but I was just looking through it again and saw the following question with no answer.

As a steadfast character, Miguel is holding out for others to stop standing in his way, to stop hating music, to stop keeping him from playing music.