The Powerful Meaning Behind “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s ‘Encanto’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Disney movie Encanto took the world by storm with its visually stunning animations and emotional music. The visual aspects of the movie propped up a powerful story of generational trauma.

The animated movie looks at a multigeneration Colombian family, the Madrigals, following a conflict that sent the family to their magical home, Casita, in the land of Encanto. Each generation of the family receives magical powers that help them serve the residents of Encanto. The story follows one specific character, Mirabel, who is a descendant of the family and the only one without any powers. However, when Mirabel learns that her family is losing their magic, she sets out to find out why.

Diving into the specifics, the movie features songs written by Hamilton genius, Lin-Manuel Miranda. One of those songs, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” quickly became a fan favorite. The song even topped the Billboard Hot 100 on February 5, 2022, staying at number one until “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals surpassed it in March.

With all this success surrounding one of Disney’s biggest hits, you must be riveted to figure out who is Bruno? Also, why don’t we talk about him? We are here to answer your questions and find out why the Madrigals don’t talk about Bruno.

Who is Bruno?

To figure out the meaning behind the song, we first have to learn about who Bruno is. Bruno is Mirabel’s uncle and one of a set of triplets that first gained magical powers—he can see the future. When Mirabel doesn’t receive her powers, the family asks Bruno to use his foresight to conjure a vision to figure out why. In his vision, he sees an older Mirabel standing in front of a broken Casita, their home. Bruno knew this vision would strain the family and the members of the town, so he smashes the glass that he saw the vision in and goes into hiding within the walls of the home.

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” discusses the misconceptions surrounding the perceived black sheep of the family. Her family paints him out as the villain of the story, but really he wanted to protect Mirabel. Many theorize that Bruno is neurodivergent or shows signs of mental illness.

Why Don’t We Talk about Bruno?

The song reveals that the reason why the family doesn’t talk about Bruno is because of the bad luck associated with his visions. Each family member has an individual story that surrounds a bad experience from Bruno’s visions.

Family members, Pepa and Félix describe their wedding day in the song as there wasn’t a / cloud in the sky. But, Bruno walks in with a mischievous grin and says, “It looks like rain.” Pepa and Félix reveal how Bruno’s prediction came true on their wedding day.

In doing so, he floods my brain
Abuela, get the umbrellas
Married in a hurricane
What a joyous day… but anyway.

Moreover, the members of the family reflect his unfortunate visions on his appearance. Dolores and Camilo depict Bruno with A seven-foot frame / rats along his back.

What’s Wrong with These Depictions

Where the family goes wrong with these depictions of Bruno is that they’re generalized. They couldn’t accept that the family’s misfortunes are simply chance, or even their own fault, so they placed the blame on Bruno just because he’s different or not present within the family. Even in his appearance, the family vilifies him.

When Mirabel finds Bruno within the walls of the home, he isn’t seven feet tall, but rather scrawny. The rats aren’t along his back like some evil henchman, but instead, provide him company in the ten years that he disappeared within the walls. The meaning of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” exemplifies the moral of getting to know someone and the multiplicity of narratives rather than preconceived notions and false judgments.

Disney Songs Influence

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” Disney’s biggest song to date, is the first song from an animated Disney film to hit number one since 1993. The last song to hit number one was “A Whole New World” from the animated Aladdin.

The first Disney animated film to feature a song was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Since then, music in Disney films developed, becoming an increasingly important part of the character and woven into the storyline. With the hiring of Howard Ashman, music and Disney went hand in hand in animated musicals like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Hercules, and Tarzan.

However, Disney lost momentum when the world of 3D animations came into play. It wasn’t until later 3D animated movies, like Tangled and Frozen, that Disney went back to their old musical formula, but instead, this time in the 3D animated world.

Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

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