Despite his family’s baffling, generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, the young Mexican finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way he meets charming trickster, Hector, and together they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock Miguel’s fascinating family history.
The clip this session focuses on sees Miguel enter the Land of the Dead for the first time. Having touched a magical guitar he finds that he is able to see and communicate with the dead, and that he is suddenly cut off from the world of the living. After meeting his deceased relatives, who have come out on the Day of the Dead to visit their families, Miguel is taken across a bridge to enter this mysterious place. It is here that Miguel realises his predicament and begins to plan his route back to the world of the living.
It is worth noting that some Christians may feel uncomfortable with the subject content of Coco as the Day of the Dead celebrations and the way the afterlife is presented differs from traditional Christian teaching. However, the film provides excellent opportunities to explore different cultural beliefs about death and offers a unique inroad to exploring the idea of death and missing those who have died.
After showing the clip, break into smaller groups to discuss the following questions before returning to a larger group to get feedback and ideas from your young people. Encourage them to ask each other further questions or to develop any points raised:
- Describe how you think Miguel might be feeling at different points in this clip.
- The clip mentions the idea of a soul being guided on a journey. What do you think is meant by the word ‘soul’?
- What is the importance of having a photo put out by the family of the dead? What might it symbolise?
- Is Miguel selfish to put his love of music above his family’s desire for him to stop playing? Once you’ve had your first set of discussions, read Luke 16:19-31 together (you can, if you wish to add context, read around this passage).
Once you have done that, break off into small groups to discuss the following questions. You may want to have a whole group feedback session afterwards to share ideas:
- How is life after death described in this passage?
- Are we expected to believe that this parable presents a realistic idea of life after death for Christians and non-Christians?
- What do you think the message of this parable is?
- How does this passage make you feel?