I frequently start my day hearing the not-so-quiet footsteps of my 4-year-old daughter attempting to sneak into the kitchen and whispering to our Google Home: “Hey Google, play Encanto.” If she had her way, the soundtrack of Disney’s hit Encanto—which just won the best animated feature Oscar—would play endlessly in our home. My daughter is not alone. During a single week in February, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno” drew 69.3 million streams and claimed the Billboard #1 spot on both the U.S. and global charts.
The catchy song is a standout from the film, for good reason. The mysterious, estranged uncle Bruno proves to be the focal point of Encanto’s plot—which follows a magical family (the Madrigals) in a hidden Colombian place called Encanto (in English, “charmed” or “delight”). Encanto’s magic has blessed each Madrigal child—except Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). Her strange lack of a special ability is the first clue that the magic of Encanto is in danger. Mirabel’s quest to discover the problem leads her to Bruno (John Leguizamo)—who was rejected by the family because of his prophecies of doom. Bruno would warn family members about the future, and they’d blame him when his predictions came to pass.
This is the dynamic narrated in “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” Watch:
As I watched the movie I couldn’t help but notice parallels between Bruno (the rejected truth-telling prophet) and Jesus Christ. I doubt any of these parallels were intended by Disney, and it’s usually wise to avoid reading into movie characters more “Christ figure” than is there. But to riff on Sally Lloyd-Jones, Encanto is a movie that whispers Jesus’s name. Here’s what I mean.
1. The prophet is rejected and silenced for truth-telling.
Like Jesus, Bruno is a prophet without honor in his hometown (Mark 6:4). The well-meaning uncle speaks truth to those he loves in order to prepare them for what’s to come. Yet instead of receiving the warning, those who hear his words only blame Bruno for bringing disaster. This is true of Jesus as well. One example is in Matthew 12, when Jesus casts out a demon from a blind and mute man. The Pharisees watch this miracle unfold yet accuse Jesus of doing it by the power of Satan (v. 24). Jesus quickly explains that if Satan is attacking himself, his kingdom would soon crumble. “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons,” Jesus continues, “then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28).
Likewise, the Madrigal family as a “household divided against itself” is quite literally crumbling—its kingdom powers will not stand. The Madrigals don’t have eyes to see that Bruno might be a prophet bringing the kingdom rather than destroying it.
Like Jesus, Bruno is a prophet without honor in his hometown.
Like Bruno, the truth-telling prophet Jesus is also rejected by his own followers—even those in his inner circle like Peter, who rebukes Jesus for suggesting a necessary path to suffering (Matt. 16:22) and then denies knowing him (Matt. 26:69–75). In fact, Peter’s brazen denial of any connection to Jesus sounds a lot like the embarrassed shame of the Madrigals when they disassociate from Bruno. Peter and others who abandoned Jesus may as well have said, “We don’t talk about Jesus!”
Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). Like Bruno, he’s a truth-telling prophet rejected and shunned by his own people.
2. The rejected and silenced prophet is actually the one holding the family together.
The Madrigal family thought Bruno had run away. Yet in Mirabel’s quest for the truth, she discovers he’s actually living in the walls of their family home. Not only that; he’s also holding the house together. Even as he’s been shunned, Bruno remains actively, selflessly at work on the family’s behalf. He is mending the cracked walls caused by the family’s unjust rejection of him.
Bruno, the rejected son, the one interceding on behalf of the very family that betrayed him. What a picture of Christ! While on the cross, the elders and chief priests mocked him: “He saved others; he cannot save himself” (Matt. 27:42). But as D. A. Carson points out, “If he had saved himself, he could not have saved others; the only way he could save others was precisely by not saving himself.” The beauty of Christ’s selfless love for his family—even as they’ve rejected him—is perhaps captured best in his words on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Bruno, too, grieves that his family doesn’t know what they’re doing—but he loves them anyway and readily forgives them.
3. The family is healed only when they receive the once-rejected prophet.
Encanto’s resolution comes when Bruno is embraced and received back into the family. The song that plays during this beautiful scene of restoration is called “All of You.” The matriarch of the family welcomes Bruno with open arms by singing, “The miracle is not some magic that you’ve got / the miracle is you, not some gift, just you. / The miracle is you. / All of you, all of you.” Only after the family receives Bruno as “the miracle” can they begin to heal and rebuild their broken paradise.
In a similar way, followers of Jesus are called to believe and receive “the miracle” of the person of Christ: his incarnation, death, and resurrection. Additionally, we’re called to embrace “all of” Jesus, not just the things he says that are palatable to us or the aspects of his personality we enjoy the most. Finally, it’s only when we confess Christ as God’s salvation miracle—a suffering servant sent to reconcile us with the Father—that we receive our new family identity (Mark. 3:35). As John puts it, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).
Bruno is by no means a perfect picture of Jesus. There are places throughout the film where the christological resonances break down. Still, in presenting Bruno as a once-rejected, truth-telling prophet, who when received by faith brings healing and wholeness, Encanto offers a shadow of our true Savior. It’s a gift when popular movies offer fodder like this for theological reflection and gospel connections—especially with young viewers. So even if your kids sing, as my daughter does, “We don’t talk about Bruno,” perhaps we should respond with, “We need to talk about Bruno.” And see where the conversation goes.