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I was given a miracle... a second chance. And I was so afraid to lose it... that I lost sight of who our miracle was for...

—Alma explaining how her motives got derailed over time


Alma Madrigal is the former main antagonist of Disney's 2021 animated feature film Encanto. She is the matriarch of the Madrigal family, the widowed wife of Pedro, the mother of Julieta, Pepa, and Bruno and the grandmother of Isabela, Dolores, Luisa, Camilo, Mirabel, and Antonio.

Encanto

Alma Madrigal is the mother of Julieta, Pepa and Bruno and the grandmother of Mirabel, Isabela, Luisa, Camilo, Antonio, and Dolores, who all call her "Abuela". She is a kind woman who practically worships the candle that blessed the Madrigals with their magic gifts. When she was younger her home was invaded by conquerors, and her husband unfortunately perished in the process. Alma was able to escape into the mountains with her children and fellow refugees, where she found a hidden "Encanto," and by a miracle the candle she held onto was imbued with magic, allowing their Casita to spring to life and gain sentience. Afterward, the candle began gifting all members of Alma's family with magical gifts, and Alma has been its keeper ever since.

Description

María Cecilio Botero, Alma's voice actor, describes her character: "Abuela doesn't have a gift. She's the one… that keeps the family together… I think I am, too, in my family. So it was kind of myself."[1]

Physical appearance

Alma has silvery-white hair with streaks of black in it. She has brown eyes and very few wrinkles. She wears a dark black mourning shawl which she wears over a pinkish maroon dress with various embroidered designs of mountain and candle motifs that goes until her ankles. She also has small pearl earrings, which almost show a slight glint of her younger happier self.

In the flashbacks depicting her younger self, she has a more smiley and cheerful appearance, complete with dark brown middle swept bangs and her hair braided on both sides with red bows tying the ends of both braids which are both over the front of her shoulders. She also has a white shirt with a frilly white collar that all the Madrigal women excluding Julieta have, with an ankle length indigo-blue skirt with black sandals.

Personality

Alma is a kind woman who cares about her family a lot but doesn't show it much due to her preoccupation of keeping the family's reputation perfect. She is seen to tell the story of the candle that blessed the family during the gift ceremony of a Madrigal, showing her family pride. However, despite her love for her family, Alma seems disappointed in the fact that Mirabel did not get a gift unlike the rest of her family, and in later years doesn't necessarily focus much on Mirabel's life due to her ordinary abilities, and sometimes even alienating her from the other Madrigal activities.

It is then hinted she even holds slight resentment towards Mirabel for not only not getting a gift, which was an indicator she was responsible for the family's dying magic, but also for indirectly being one of the causes for Bruno's disappearance, even though she alienated him as well for his negative gift aspects. Additionally, she puts constant pressure on her family to use their gifts perfectly, even beginning to push Isabela into marrying Mariano, also unaware of the fact that Isabela doesn't want to marry him. This reveals she relies on or is obsessed with the foundation her family's magic has built for them and doesn't want to harm it. But when Alma accuses Mirabel of ruining their family, a fed up Mirabel throws back that Alma saw her as a disappointment for not getting a gift and is the true cause of the magic falling apart, due to pressuring her family.

After this strain finally destroys their Casita, Alma realizes her mistakes and apologizes to Mirabel, revealing she was afraid of losing her family and has forgotten that what made the family special was not the gifts, but by being a family. She then reveals that all her pressuring originates from having to be forced out of her home by conquerors and simultaneously losing her husband, culminating in a grief that prevented her from ever explaining the full details of her true story and creating a need for perfection, in order to ensure she never loses her home (or any of her loved ones, for that matter) again. She then reconciled with Mirabel and joins her in rebuilding the Casita, making up for her mistakes by accepting her family and home the way it is. She was also relieved and happy to be reunited with Bruno, who she clearly missed, demonstrating this by giving him a kiss on his cheek.

Relationships

  • Pedro Madrigal: Pedro is Alma's late husband. When the couple met, they fell in love with one another very quickly, got married and had three children. When the young family, and other villagers were faced with people attacking their village, they were forced to flee. When the men had caught up to the group, Pedro sacrifice himself and was killed in the process, leaving Alma widowed and heartbroken. Alma keeps Pedro in her thoughts and she thinks of him when referring back to how the miracle started when she becomes worried about the magic.
  • Julieta Madrigal: Alma's relationship with Julieta, her oldest triplet child, while Julieta was growing up is unknown, however, by the start of the movie, it is clear that Alma's relationship with Julieta is strained because of Alma's harsh treatment of Mirabel. Before Antonio's ceremony at the beginning of the movie, Julieta makes a point to ask her mother to be nice to Mirabel because of how difficult the night was going to be because her gift ceremony didn't work out. When the house began cracking, Alma was more concerned about what was happening to their house rather than Julieta's concerns about how Alma was always too hard on Mirabel. Despite being tough on her children, it's clear that Alma loves her daughter because by the end of the movie, Alma admits that she was afraid of losing her daughters and she realizes the real miracle is her family.
  • Pepa Madrigal: Alma's relationship with Pepa, her middle triplet child, while Pepa was growing up is unknown, however, throughout the film, Alma is shown often pestering Pepa to keep her emotions under control, normally because of its negative impact on the people around her. This is shown a few times throughout the film such as when Pepa was anxiously looking for Antonio for his gift ceremony, Alma told her that she had a cloud following her, another time was during dinner with the Guzmán family, Pepa had storm clouds hovering over the table because of what she found out about Bruno's vision, and Alma reminded Pepa to get rid of the clouds, and when the Casita started to crack, she tried telling Pepa to calm down. During almost every instance, Pepa snapped back at her that she's trying her best. Despite being tough on her children, Alma loves her daughter and openly admits that she was afraid of losing the both of them, realizing the true miracle is her family.
  • Bruno Madrigal: Alma's relationship with Bruno, her youngest triplet child and only son, while Bruno was growing up is unknown, however it is apparent that as Bruno got older, his relationship with Alma became strained, as well as his relationships with other members of his family and the people in the Encanto. Despite this, after Mirabel didn't get her gift, Alma relied on Bruno to look into the future to see what it meant. However, after Bruno did look into the future, to avoid telling Alma or anybody else what he saw, he decided to disappear. After Bruno's disappearance, Alma would go ten years without seeing or speaking to her son. Bruno's disappearance caused Alma's opinion of Bruno to turn sour, this being shown during Alma's argument with Mirabel when Alma accused Bruno of not caring about the family. Despite this, it's clear that she still loves Bruno because when she saw him for the first time since he disappeared, she greets him with a hug and kisses him on the cheek.
  • Isabela Madrigal: Isabela is Alma's first, and presumably favorite, grandchild. From a very early age, Alma placed very high expectations on Isabela. She thinks very highly of Isabela, referring to her as perfect. Her expectations of Isabela to be perfect are so high that by the end of the musical number "What Else Can I Do", when Isabela had expressed her true self, Alma became infuriated and commented that Isabela was out of control. By the end of the movie however, when Alma realizes that the real miracle was her family, she likely no longer expects Isabela to be perfect.
  • Dolores Madrigal: Dolores is her second grandchild following Isabela (being the first). It is unknown between the relationship of Alma and Dolores, though, they have interacted in the movie when Alma asks her about Mariano's proposal to Isabela. This also does mean that Alma relies Dolores to hear anything for her and other's needs.
  • Luisa Madrigal: Luisa is Alma's third grandchild. Alma is very dependent on Luisa's physical strength and often expects her to do the heavy lifting. Alma became visibly concerned when Luisa had stated that she was starting to lose her gift and had a worried expression on her face when it was clear how upset Luisa was about it.
  • Mirabel Madrigal: Mirabel is Alma's fifth grandchild. When Mirabel was younger, Alma was very close to her. Alma would tell her stories about how the miracle came to be and how children in the family would receive a gift when they came of age. However, after Mirabel's fifth birthday when she didn't get her gift, Alma became very distant from Mirabel. Throughout the movie, Alma doesn't acknowledge Mirabel's attempts of trying to help the family. When the magic started to fade, and after seeing Bruno's final vision, Alma openly blamed Mirabel for the negativity that the family was going through, such as; the house cracking, Bruno leaving, Luisa losing her powers and Isabela being out of control. However, by the end of the film, Alma realizes her mistake and that her family was the true miracle instead of the magic, and she and Mirabel make amends.
  • Antonio Madrigal: Antonio is Alma's youngest grandchild. When Antonio received his gift during his ceremony, Alma was thrilled and filled with pride for Antonio's successful ceremony.

History

Losing Her Husband and Finding the Miracle

The candle grows brighter

Alma was born seventy five years before the events of the film. She spent most of her young adult life living in an unknown village. During the "Day of the Little Candles" celebration, she met Pedro. The pair fell in love with each other and soon got married. Much to her delight, Alma got pregnant with triplets. Alma gave birth to the triplets Julieta, Pepa and Bruno on October 17th, fifty years before the start of the film's events. However, later that same day, Alma and Pedro took their children and left their village along with some other citizens after conquerors came and started terrorizing the inhabitants. Everyone who escaped left in search of a new home, but as they crossed through a river in the valley, the conquerors caught up with them, and Pedro was killed. Having witnessed her husband's death, Alma was left heartbroken. Alma prayed for a miracle and was immediately granted one. Magic was born from Alma's candle, and the magic created the Encanto where Alma and the rest of the citizens who escaped with her could live in peace. The miracle also vanquished their enemies, created a mountain range to protect the Encanto, and also granted Alma a sentient house for her and her family to live in.

Alma the night her kids got their gift

When Alma's children came of age, the age being five, they each got their own unique magical gifts accompanied with their new room. Eventually, Alma's daughters would get married and have children of their own, and Alma's grandchildren, Isabela, Dolores, Luisa and Camilo all received their magical gifts when they turned five.

Mirabel's Failed Ceremony and Bruno's Disappearance

Ten years before the events of the movie, Alma's then youngest grandchild, Mirabel, was set to get her gift when she turned five. Alma had told Mirabel about how the miracle came to be, and she told her that even though she didn't know what her gift was going to be it was definitely going to be just as special as she was.

When it came time for Mirabel's ceremony, when she reached for her door and touched the door knob, instead of getting a magical gift and opening the way to her new room, Mirabel didn't get a gift and the door disappeared.

That same night, Alma went to Bruno and asked her son to please look into the future to see what was going on, as no Madrigal child had ever been denied a door before and Alma was worried about the state of the family's magic. However, Bruno would never tell Alma about what he saw and he would disappear without saying anything.

Antonio's Gift Ceremony

Five years before the movie's events, Pepa gave birth to her youngest child Antonio. By the beginning of the film, it's the morning of Antonio's fifth birthday and he's expected to get his gift by the end of the day.

During "The Family Madrigal", Alma can be seen walking and helping around town. She eventually returned to the house and tells people it's time to get ready for Antonio's ceremony. When Mirabel was finishing telling the kids in town about the family, Alma, visibly confused, asked Mirabel what she was doing. Mirabel explains she was telling the kids about the family, and when Alejandra says the Mirabel was about to tell them about her gift, Alma walks away after Dolores says that Mirabel didn't get one.

While everyone's getting ready, Alma tells Camilo to help José with Antonio's banner, and she also tells Luisa to put the piano on the upper floor of the house.

She can later be heard telling people to clean their rooms saying that she didn't care how big they were. Alma catches Mirabel trying to decorate the outside of people's rooms, and although she acknowledges that Mirabel wants to help, she tells her that the best way for Mirabel to help would be to let the other members of the family do what they do best.

Pepa then walks by, and Alma alerts her that she has a cloud hanging over her head, but Pepa tells her that she can't find Antonio. When their conversation is over, Alma runs into Julieta on the stairs who asks her to be nice to Mirabel because she knows Antonio's gift ceremony was going to be difficult because Mirabel's own gift ceremony didn't turn out well. Alma tells her that if Antonio's gift ceremony doesn't go well it's going to be a difficult night for everyone.

During Antonio's ceremony, Alma gives a brief speech about how the Madrigal family was blessed with a miracle fifty years earlier. When Antonio approaches her and touches the candle, Alma asks him if he will use his gift to strengthen the community. He nods his head and approaches his door, and Alma waits with bated breath as Antonio reaches for his door knob. Antonio successfully receives a gift much Alma's relief as she announces to the crowd that the family has a new gift.

Alma happy that Antonio has a gift

As the family celebrates inside of Antonio's new room, Alma gathers everyone, except for Mirabel, together for a family photo. Alma continues celebrating with the family and the townsfolk in Antonio's new room, even dancing with Félix for a few moments. As everyone is celebrating, Alma is shocked when Mirabel runs into the room announcing that the house was in danger. Alma wants Mirabel to show her, and Mirabel led everyone outside to show them that the house was cracking, however the cracks suddenly disappeared. Mirabel tried explaining to Alma what she saw, and Alma cuts her off and announces to everyone that the magic was strong and so were the drinks, and everyone goes back to celebrating.

Later that night however, Alma talks to a picture of Pedro while looking out of her window. She expresses concern about the state of the magic and concern for what will happen to their home.

Breakfast

The following morning, Alma gathers everyone around for breakfast, and states that they are all grateful for Antonio's new gift. As she sits down she nearly sits on Antonio's animals. Antonio tells Alma that he asked them to warm up her seat, and she thanks him and she shoes the animals away saying that she's sure they can find a way to put his blessings to good use.

While Alma continues talking, Mirabel starts shouting, and Alma has the Casita move Mirabel's seat from next to Luisa, to next to her. Alma tells everyone that they can't take the miracle for granted and that they will work twice as hard. When Mirabel tries getting up from her seat, Alma tells her to stop and has the Casita push the chair back in.

Alma announces that she spoke to the Guzmáns about Mariano's proposal to Isabela and asks Dolores for a date on the proposal. Alma's very happy when Dolores says that Mariano was planning on proposing that same night and that he wanted five children. Alma comments that the pair would bring a new generation of "magical blessings" and make both families stronger.

Alma then proceeded to tell the family that the community was counting on them before dismissing everyone from the table.

After Breakfast

Later that morning, Alma and Isabela are walking hand-in-hand as Alma tells Isabela that she believes her and Mariano are a perfect match.

Sometime after that, after Mirabel emerges from Bruno's room after having found pieces of his vision, Alma wants to know where Mirabel was coming from in a hurry. Before Mirabel could say anything, Luisa comes into the house and frantically explains to Alma that she was losing her gift. During her explanation, Luisa mentions to Alma how Mirabel told her that she shouldn't carry too much. When Luisa runs away crying, Alma asks Mirabel what exactly did she say to Luisa but Mirabel denies having said anything.

Alma listening to Luisa explain how she is losing her gift

Alma then tells Mirabel she has to go get the Guzmáns for Isabela's engagement and she instructs Mirabel to stay away from Luisa until she can talk to her because they can't have any more problems. Before she leaves the house, Alma tells Mirabel to stop doing whatever she's doing.

Dinner With The Guzmáns

Towards the end of the song "We Don't Talk About Bruno" Alma was escorting Señora Guzmán and Mariano to their house. When the Guzmáns arrive, Alma announces to everyone that it's time to eat dinner.

Before everyone eats, Alma says that the union between the Guzmáns and Madrigals would be good for the families and for the Encanto. Señora Guzmán makes a joke about hoping that the night goes well and that it doesn't turn out to be a horrible disaster. Alma then makes a toast to a perfect night.

As the night goes on, Alma tries to keep Señora Guzmán happy as members of her family become distressed when learning of Bruno's vision such as Camilo quickly transforming into Mirabel, then Bruno before his face distorts and his eyes look in different directions before he fixes it, Félix spitting out his water on Mariano, and Pepa creating a storm cloud, which Alma tries to tell her to get rid of.

As the dinner continues spiraling out of control, Alma gets visibly more distressed. When Mirabel, while trying to grab the vision that Antonio's animals had assembled, accidentally slides it to Alma, she horrified by what she sees. When everyone leaves the dining room, Alma chases after Señora Guzmán and Mariano to try to get them to stay. When the townsfolk witnessed the Guzmáns running out of the Casita, Alma proclaims that they are the Madrigals and that the magic is strong and everything is fine before slamming the door shut and yelling for Mirabel.

Later, Alma reprimands Agustín for keeping information about Bruno's vision to himself, saying that he should've thought of the family and told her as soon as he saw it. Agustín however says that he was thinking of his daughter. Before she can say anything, Alma notices that Pepa is creating a mini snowstorm and tells her to calm down, and Pepa tells her that she's trying and she's just lucky that she isn't creating a hurricane. Julieta tells Alma that she's always been too hard on Mirabel, and Alma tells them to look at the cracks and they must protect their family and Encanto, going on to say that they cannot lose their home.

When the townspeople come to the Casita telling her that people are worried about the magic, Alma goes into town, but before she leaves she tells Agustín and Julieta that they need to find Mirabel because she was in Bruno's vision for a reason.

The Magic Fades

Confrontation

Alma seeing Isabela "out of control"

While in town, Alma stops by the Guzmáns' house and tries to make amends for the ruined proposal dinner. However, during "What Else Can I Do?", while Isabela is growing a series of exotic plants, she accidentally breaks Mariano's nose a second time. Alma is shocked when she sees what Isabela and Mirabel are both doing back at the Casita.

Angry, Alma returns home and demands to know what is going on. Mirabel, in her excitement, tries to explain to Alma that she was going to save the miracle. Mirabel tries to tell Alma that Isabela wasn't happy, and Alma says it's clear that Isabela's unhappy because Mirabel ruined her proposal. Alma gets increasingly more agitated as Mirabel tries to explain what she had been doing and how she was going to save the miracle, but Alma cuts her off and tells her that she needs to stop.

Alma berates Mirabel, and proceeds to blame her for all the family's problems, such as the house cracking, Bruno leaving, Luisa losing her powers and Isabela being out of control. She tells Mirabel that she doesn't know why she didn't get a gift but it wasn't an excuse for her to hurt the family.

Alma and Mirabel arguing

Mirabel questions if she would ever be good enough for Alma no matter how hard she, or anybody else in the family tried. Mirabel tells Alma that Bruno only left because Alma only saw the worst in him, but Alma states that Bruno didn't care about the family. Mirabel insisted everybody loves the family, and Alma was the only one who didn't care, and Alma was shocked when Mirabel asserts that the miracle was dying because of her.

The Casita Falls

When the argument concludes, the ground beneath them starts cracking and the house starts falling apart as the candle starts fading fast. When the house starts collapsing, everybody except for Mirabel is thrown out and Alma is caught by Luisa before she hits the ground. Alma watches, horrified as Mirabel risks her life to get the candle as the house starts falling in on itself.

After the house falls, Dolores helps Alma sit down and Alma is visibly worried when Mirabel disappears.

Making Amends

Alma finds Mirabel in the valley, sitting next to the river that she and Pedro had crossed while escaping from conquerers fifty years earlier. Mirabel apologizes to her saying that she didn't want to hurt the family, but she just tried to be something that she wasn't.

Alma sat down next to her, and told her that she never thought she would be able to return to the river, since it's where Pedro died and where they were given the miracle. She goes on to explain to Mirabel that she thought that she and Pedro would have a different life together and she would be a different person. Alma says she was given a miracle, a second chance that she was so afraid to lose that she ultimately lost sight of who a miracle was for.

Alma and Mirabel hugging

Alma apologizes to Mirabel and tells her that Mirabel never hurt the family, and Alma acknowledges that she's the reason the family is broken. Mirabel takes Alma's hands in hers and acknowledges the loss and sorrow that Alma experienced as a young woman and she understands that Alma didn't want it to happen again. Mirabel proceeds to tell Alma that they were safe because of her, they were a family because of her and they were given a miracle because of her. Alma tells Mirabel that she asked Pedro for help and Pedro sent her Mirabel and the two of them hug.

Alma reuniting with Bruno

Just as they finish their embrace, Bruno comes riding in on a horse yelling that Mirabel didn't do anything wrong and that he gave her a vision and all Mirabel wanted to do was help. Alma is shocked when she sees Bruno since she hadn't seen him in ten years. As Bruno continues talking, Alma rushes to him and gives him a hug, much to his confusion. She gives him a kiss on the cheek and grabs his hand and pulls him onto the horse and all three of them ride on horseback to the Encanto.


Rebuilding The Casita and Restoring The Magic

When they get back to the Encanto and reunite with a family, Mirabel leads them into the song "All Of You". Alma apologizes for holding onto the magic too tight and says the miracle isn't a gift or magical powers but just her family, and she then re-introduces Bruno to his sisters who are happy to see him.

Alma helps the family as well as the rest of the townspeople to rebuild the Casita. When the Casita is rebuilt, she watches in awe as Mirabel attaches the door knob to the front door and subsequently restores the magic.

Alma joins the rest of the family in a complete family photo chanting "La Familia Madrigal".

Powers and Abilities

Abuela Alma doesn't possess any particular gift, due to being the one who found the miracle that blessed the Madrigal family in the first place. Instead, she is in charge of all magic of the family. She takes care of the magical candle that gives the family their magical gifts, although she herself has no individual gift, as she merely makes sure the family magic is used carefully.

Gallery

References

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