My precious: Andy Serkis says he loved The Rings of Power because it’s true to Peter Jackson’s trilogy

AFP

The affection for the “real” Mama Coco grows on the Day of the Dead

During the Day of the Dead festivities, a group of Mexican and foreign visitors leave a humble house, in the heart of the Michoacán lake region, with one certainty: Mama Coco, the protagonist of the famous Pixar animated film, lived here. “It’s just that it looks a lot alike! When you look at the nose in the drawing and hers, the shape of the face and the hair, or the wheelchair, it’s just too much of a coincidence,” exclaims Paula Colmenero, a 52-year-old Spaniard She came accompanied by her husband and two daughters. The sweet old woman who gave her name to “Coco”, winner of the Oscar for best animated film in 2017, was a fictional character created with the sophisticated technology of the famous American studio. But that good-natured smile, narrowed eyes and long braids of white hair are the same features that characterized María Salud Ramírez, matriarch of a family of artisans who died on October 16, at the age of 109. Laughing, Mama Salud, as she was known in Santa Fe de la Laguna, was an “independent and talkative” woman who came whenever she could to the town square, belonging to the Purépecha indigenous ethnic group. There she used to buy fresh mojarra, her favorite fish, and she would sit on the sidewalk enjoying the atmosphere, remembers Patricia Pérez, one of her granddaughters. One of those afternoons, residents of the town went to tell Patricia that “some tourists were taking pictures” of her grandmother. At that time it was nothing more than a simple anecdote. – His photo at the altar – More than a year later the surprise arrived: the premiere of “Coco”, the cinematographic tribute that Pixar paid to the traditional Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead, gave meaning to the presence of those foreigners who photographed so much to his grandmother. “They were based on her, on her image,” says Patricia, convinced. Pixar has always rejected this version, claiming that the character of Mama Coco was not based on any individual and arose “solely” from the imagination of its creators. Although her granddaughter no longer wants to “get involved in that controversy”, since the premiere of the film, art and life have maintained an inexhaustible game of mirrors that has transformed the Ramírez family’s routine. Mama Salud became, perhaps forever, Mama Coco, while her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren assumed her house as a place of pilgrimage for dozens of tourists who come each year to pay tribute to the old woman. The house also serves as a store for paraphernalia alluding to the character, from t-shirts, cups, piggy banks, key rings and magnets, among other souvenirs, of simple manufacture sold at prices between 1.5 and 20 dollars. The Spanish Colmenero celebrates that the family takes some advantage of the fame of the matriarch, because she assures that “it is very clear that they have copied her.” As in the final sequence of the film, this year Mama Coco is only present in the photographs that the family has placed on her wheelchair and especially on the altar that they have prepared to receive her spirit, as the popular belief assures that the Day of the Dead. Adorned with cempasúchil bouquets and petals, in addition to numerous candles, the offering consists of your ideal dinner: a pot with beans, a case of white atole, fish dishes, the metate to prepare tortillas and a Pepsi, your favorite drink. “There we are going to put little fish, what she cooked, white fish and mojarra (…) and roasted chilitos because she liked to roast the chilies,” adds Leticia Pérez Hernández, another of the 49-year-old granddaughters, while accommodating the belongings -“He always wanted to welcome people”-For Patricia, 38, keeping the doors of the house open after the death of Mama Coco is the best way to do her will. “She always wanted to receive people, she was always happy. That’s why we decided to reopen the doors so that people continue to visit her because that’s what she was always going to want,” says the granddaughter. Taehyun Kim, a 36-year-old South Korean tourist, confirms that the family’s decision is the correct one. “I wanted to come to Mexico, I had to come, so I left my job and my wife too to come see Mama Coco,” he told AFP. For Mexicans, who make up the bulk of the visitors, the famous grandmother is a new source of national pride. “Thank you Mama Coco for representing our culture with dignity,” wrote Beatriz Gutiérrez Campos, a local tourist, in the improvised visitors’ notebook set up in the house. jla/axm/ltl

My precious: Andy Serkis says he loved The Rings of Power because it’s true to Peter Jackson’s trilogy