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♫We swear to always help those around us and earn the miracle that somehow found us. The town keeps growing, the world keeps turning, but work and dedication will keep the miracle burning, and each new generation must keep the miracle burning!♫
      —Alma's philosophy.

Alma Madrigal is the anti-heroic main antagonist of the Disney's 60th animated feature film Encanto. She is the matriarch of the Madrigal family and the grandmother of Mirabel Madrigal.

She is voiced by Maria Cecilia Botero.

Personality[]

Deeply traumatized by the tragic loss of her husband and endlessly grateful for the miracle that came to rescue her and her triplets, Alma believes she is indebted to the magic that found her family and must do everything she can to ensure she gives back to the world around her. She also enlists all of her children and grand-children for the same mission, instructing them to master their gifts and spend every second of the day putting them to use. In this manner she secures that her family stays strong, though she fails to give full attention to the stress and anxiety the members of the family have to deal with under the weight of all the untenable expectations set upon them.

Having lost everything before, Alma is exceedingly worried over the eventual cracks in the Casita's foundation. She falls into something of an obsession because of this, encouraging her family to work harder and harder, asking Bruno to have a vision of the future despite his poor reputation and even unjustly placing the blame on Mirabel when the magic's abatement seems to coincide with the giftless grandchild's quest to save it. In the end, after getting a stern talking-to by Mirabel, Alma realizes she's been seeing the family as their gifts, not their persons, and feels immense regret, promising to change her ways.

Biography[]

Past[]

In her youth, Alma was married to Pedro Madrigal, with whom she had three children: Julieta, Pepa and Bruno. Their happy marriage was cut short when a band of conquerors attacked, likely as part of a civil war or a raid. Pedro sacrificed himself to let his wife and children escape and was killed as Alma watched. This scarred Alma, but just as things looked their darkest, her candle became enchanted and created the sentient house the Casita, which imbued her children with magical powers. A village eventually spawned around this house, and Alma and her family became the pillars of its society. Bruno was eventually ostracized due to his gift being the ability to tell the future, leading him to predict many haunting developments that gave people the impression that he was evil.

Encanto[]

Alma is first seen at Mirabel's gift ceremony, telling her an abridged version of the origins of the Casita and the family's magic. To Alma's horror, Mirabel isn't given a gift at all.

Many years later, when Pepa's youngest son, Antonio, is about to receive his gift, Alma is seen stringently supervising the decorations. When she sees Mirabel trying to prepare her own humble decorations, Alma awkwardly suggests that she "step aside" for the ceremony as to ensure that everything goes perfectly. Julieta, Mirabel's mother, implores Alma to be gentle with Mirabel, to which Alma asserts how the family will suffer if the ceremony goes awry.

On the evening of the ceremony, the Casita gifts Antonio the ability to speak to animals, to the palpable relief of Alma. The entire village celebrates, taking a picture of the whole family apart from Mirabel, who discovers that cracks are forming in the walls and floors of the Casita. Horrified, she breaks up the ceremony to tell Alma, but when they get to the room wherein the cracks were allegedly formed, they're nowhere to be seen. Mirabel tries to explain herself, but Alma angrily silences her and whips the crowd back up.

Later that night, as Mirabel is sneaking around, she overhears Alma lamenting to her candle and a photo of Pedro that she's aware the magic is dying. She begs for a sign on how to save her family. This encourages Mirabel to go on her own quest to save the family and the miracle before it's too late. She asks around the house, confronting her older sister Luisa, who is gifted with immense strength, about her obvious nervousness. Luisa reveals that she is burdened by the constant pressure on her to be strong and distressed by the fact that she's growing weaker. She hints that their ostracized uncle Bruno might have known about this conflict, and Mirabel goes to his abandoned tower to investigate.

On her way out Bruno's abandoned tower, Mirabel bumps into Alma. Before she can excuse her disheveled appearance to her grandmother, Luisa comes in, sobbing and spilling all the details of her conversation with Mirabel to Alma. Hearing this, the matriarch becomes further unhappy with Mirabel, forbidding her to talk to Luisa again in the foreseeable future and ordering her to stop whatever it is that she's doing.

That evening, Alma has invited local heart-throb Mariano Guzmán and his mother to dinner with her family in the interest of arranging a marriage between Mariano and Isabela, Mirabel's beautiful oldest sister and the current pride of the family. Over the course of the dinner, the news that Mirabel has undertaken to research Bruno's vision about the family's magic dying (which mysteriously depicts her) spreads around the table, causing the family members' magical abilities to go out of whack, ruining Mariano's proposal and the night as a whole, despite Alma's desparate attempts to redeem it.

As Alma furiously assures the shocked townsfolk (who came to celebrate the planned engagement) that her family's magic is still strong, Mirabel journeys into a hidden area inside the walls of the house to find Bruno, a regretful figure who isolated himself as, per Alma's request, he'd had a vision about the miracle's future, which involved Mirabel. Not knowing exactly what the meaning of Mirabel's appearance was, Bruno concluded that Alma and the family would only assume the worst, and thus disappeared in order to protect Mirabel from undue ostracization. Bruno and Mirabel discover together that the key to saving the family's magic appears to be making amends with the catty Isabela. Concerned over Mirabel's disappearance, the family comes clean to Alma about her secret mission. This sends Alma into a panic, causing her to lash out at them for not telling her sooner and demand they find Mirabel so her antics can be stopped and the chaos ended.

Shortly thereafter, Mirabel sneaks into Isabela's room and attempts to patch up their relationship. Isabela reveals that she, like Luisa, endures a constant pressure to be perfect, in her case perfectly fair and beautiful, as she's the golden child. Moreover, she only agreed to marry Maniano for the good of the family. After accidentally creating a cactus during an emotional fit, Isabela is encouraged to go wild with her powers, and the two sisters knock themselves out singing and creating a messy splash of colorful plants and flowers. Gradually, this causes the cracks to fade and the candle to light up. Alma, who was heretofore occupied with apologizing to Mariano and his mother for the botched dinner, notices all the confusion and resolves to put an end to it.

Alma bursts into Isabela's room, appalled by the disorder. Upon seeing her grandmother, Mirabel eagerly begins revealing her plan and its success to her, but Alma, in rage, blames Mirabel for both the magic dying and the family falling apart (even blaming her for her sisters' problems), even going as far as to insinuate that it's because she wasn't given a gift. Finally fed up with this treatment, Mirabel angrily states that she, as well as the rest of the family, will never be good enough for Alma or her expectations, no matter how hard they try and that she's the one killing the miracle by forcing everyone to be perfect and, consequently, tearing everyone apart. This angry confrontation is enough to fully demolish the Casita.

Hearbroken, Mirabel runs away to the river by which her grandfather, Pedro, had been murdered, ashamed of indirectly destroying their home. Alma catches up to her and assures her it's not her fault. Remorsefully, she admits to her mistakes and confesses that, in working so feverishly to make certain her family and its magic never falter, she lost sight of what was really important: not their gifts, but the family.

The family is reunited. Even Bruno, who rushes in to shoulder the blame for everything, is simply embraced by Alma, who is delighted to see him again (which surprise him completely). Together with the village, the Madrigals rebuild their house, and as soon as Mirabel adds the Casita's doorknob, the magic returns.

Trivia[]

  • Alma is a unique example of a Disney antagonist who not only isn't villainous but entirely means well. In reality, she wanted the conflict resolved just as much as her granddaughter, Mirabel. She only had to recognize that she was the one causing it in the first place.
  • Alma's name in Portugese means "soul".
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