The Rivera family history is told, explaining that its matriarch Imelda was the wife of a musician who left her and her child Coco to pursue a career in music. She turned to shoemaking which became the family business, and began a tradition which to this day bans music in the Riveras. Her great-great-grandson, 12-year-old Miguel, lives with his elderly great-grandmother Coco and the rest of her descendants in the small, fictional Mexican village of Santa Cecilia. He secretly dreams of becoming a musician like his idol, the late Ernesto de la Cruz, a popular singer and film star who died in a performance when a stage worker accidentally drops a giant bell on him. Miguel keeps a secret hideout with many memorabilia from de la Cruz and he is everyday discouraged by his family about becoming a musician. When Miguel tries to enter a talent show for the Day of the Dead, his Abuelita destroys his guitar when he tried to convince her to see him play. Miguel then discovers something hidden in the photo of Imelda – taken with her husband and an infant Coco – at the center of the family ofrenda: her husband (whose face is ripped out) was holding the guitar famously used by Ernesto.