Salma’s Big Wish Film Review (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

Once again, an animated film takes its audience to distant Mexico and takes a closer look at the country’s traditions. Salma’s Big Wish Although he can’t quite keep up with his big role models, he is impressive because of his charming handling of “adult topics”. We reveal more about this in our review.

Brightly colored and full of lights: the realm of the dead is not a dark place.

The plot summary

16-year-old Salma lives in the Mexican city of Santa Clara. She has never met her birth parents and her relationship with her foster family is strained. Salma doesn’t know what exactly happened to her mother and father. All she knows is the story that her parents abandoned her when she was a small child. Just like that. One day the girl discovers an old book that may hold a connection to her past. Together with her two foster brothers Jorge and Pedro, Salma embarks on a spectacular adventure into the world of the dead, in which she not only learns more about herself and her past, but also her friendship with Jorge and Pedro becomes ever closer…


In addition to the “James Bond” film “Spectre,” which a few years ago used the Dia de los Muertos festivities that took place in Mexico on November 2nd to present one of the most spectacular opening scenes in franchise history, more recently In the past, two films celebrate the so-called “Day of the Dead”, on which Mexican residents ceremonially commemorate the deceased. It is said: Once a year the dead should be allowed to stay among the living. Altars are decorated, there is baking and, above all, there is singing and laughter. Because the “Day of the Dead” is – unlike, for example, the Sunday of the Dead in USA – not a day of mourning, but primarily a reason to celebrate together.

There are some bizarre characters in the realm of the dead…

Both Pixar’s “Coco” and the much less well-known production “Manolo and the Book of Life” tell stories about the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in brightly colored animated film colors – and now a third, Salma’s Big Wish is added, which is different The two US productions were also made directly in Mexico itself. However, director Carlos Gutiérrez Medrano had to put up with a lot of criticism from his home country because he dealt with Mexican traditions in a very frank and sometimes slightly distorted way in his story (if you take a look at the film app Letterboxd, you will mainly find 0, 5 star reviews, all from Mexico). Now you can perhaps turn a blind eye to such freedoms if, like us in Germany, you are not directly affected by them. Which ultimately allows us to come to a much more lenient verdict. “Salma’s Big Wish” cannot keep up with the much more expensive “Coco” and “Manolo” on a visual level alone, and the narrative is not nearly as smart as these entries. Nevertheless, this 3D animated film also succeeds in introducing children to topics that you might not necessarily want to confront the little ones with at a very young age.

Of course, this primarily includes the topic of death, which the film (whose screenwriter is not known) brings to its young target group. As with the competition, the world of the dead here is colorful and beautifully staged – and the deceased themselves are anything but unhappy in the realm of the dead. This can help you process losses more easily at an early stage. Death in “Salma’s Big Wish” is not something evil or even sad, but simply something different. As they walk through this same realm, Salma and her brothers meet all sorts of bizarre characters, all in skeleton outfits. They are so warm and helpful that “Salma’s Big Wish” never reaches even the hint of darkness; Even the narrative bracket around the personified death itself stays away from any form of horror. Instead, the focus is entirely on the interaction between the young people and later also on the titular secret behind Salma’s origins. What comes out of it should also be touching for an adult audience.

Conclusion: “Salma’s Big Wish” cannot keep up with similar animated productions either visually or narratively, but it manages to present topics such as death, grief and being an orphan in a way that is child-friendly and exciting for its audience, who will also enjoy the beautiful images.

“Salma’s Big Wish” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from October 24th.

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