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Music is a big part of the magic of THE BOOK OF LIFE, and the production was lucky to land the formidable talents of two-time Oscar winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, the father of Latin alternative music, making his animated feature film debut. Under his supervision, the filmmakers landed rights to cover, with a Latin twist, beloved songs from Mumford and Sons ("I Will Wait"), Elvis Presley ("Can't Help Falling in Love"), Radiohead ("Creep"), Biz Markie ("Just a Friend"), Rod Stewart ("Do Ya Think I'm Sexy"). Additionally, there are beautiful, original songs written by Santaolalla and the award-winning Paul Williams.

"The music hails from all cultures and eras," says Gutierrez. "The story is set in the past but the music is current. And the idea behind the characters singing these familiar songs is that mariachis don't compose music; they sing familiar songs. So that's what Manolo does; he grabs music from the culture."

"Gustavo is known to mix the sound of Latin America with Northern influences, including electronic, punk and rock," del Toro elaborates. "That became the sound of THE BOOK OF LIFE - the idea that these songs from all over the world, and from different eras would go through the film's 'sound machine' to sound authentically Mexican, but at the same time have a global reach."

For example, Manolo's soulful singing of Radiohead's "Creep" emanates from what he thinks is a quiet moment of solitude - though Maria is listening. He then embarks on the time-honored tradition of serenading the girl of one's dreams. Accompanied by his rotund mariachi friends, the Rodriguez brothers (voiced by Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias and Ricardo Sanchez "Mandril"), they try fun, though hardly romantic versions of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" - the latter to the accompaniment of a toy piano.

These are great songs, to be sure, but Maria is unimpressed. That is, until Manolo, absent his three pals, warbles a new song, "I Love You Too Much" (music by Gustavo Santaolalla, lyric by Paul Williams), which touches Maria's heart.

"Manolo realizes he has to sing from the heart and not use someone else's song," the director explains. "'I Love You Too Much' is a love song that pours out of his heart and soul, and it works!"

Another new song, "No Matter Where You Are," is performed by a real-life married couple known as Us the Duo, who introduced the tune as their marriage vows - and then landed a record deal. The song is performed by Diego Luna and Zoe Saldana.

THE BOOK OF LIFE is set in Mexico, but its music, heart, humor and themes are universal - as are its talented cast and crew. "We have people from all over the world who worked on this movie," says Booker.

Above all, the film is about the importance of shaping one's own destiny. As The Candle Maker tells us, "Write your own story."


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