Maya and the Three, a new Netflix series about Mexican culture

Wandering craniums, gigantic jaguars, upside-down pyramids, monsters, gods and dragons make up Maya and the Three, the new Netflix animated series from Mexican filmmaker Jorge R. Gutiérrez.

Maya and the Three, a new Netflix series about Mexican culture
Maya and the Three. Image credit: Netflix

Walking skulls, giant jaguars, inverted pyramids, dragons, gods, and monsters will be part of Maya and the Three, the new Netflix animated series by Mexican filmmaker Jorge R. Gutiérrez. The director of The Book of Life presented a preview of this production, which he made together with the character designer and his wife, Sandra Eqihua, at the tenth edition of the Chilemonos Festival.

"Maya and the three is a story that I have wanted to tell since I was a child, inspired by the cultures of Mesoamerica, the Aztecs, Mayas, Incas, further south and the Caribbean," he shared in a conversation with fans from all over Latin America. The initial impulse came from the Netflix studio, which asked Jorge R. Gutiérrez to propose a project that seemed impossible to carry out. That's how he developed the idea of a heroine contextualized in the cultures of Mesoamerica.

"My idea was always to try to do what they did with The Lord of the Rings, taking inspiration from medieval fantasies or the fantasy of France like Fury of Titans and that if you come from a country with these mythologies and traditions, you have the right to your versions, tell our stories and share them with the rest of the world." Jorge R. Gutiérrez explained that he decided to make Maya his protagonist when he realized that most of the stories from this region are always starred by some male character.

"So what better time and place to change that a bit and put the emphasis not on a male hero, but a female heroine. And as a writer and creator, I looked at the three most important people in my life: my wife Sandra; my mother who is watching me from Tijuana, and my sister who is an artist and lives in Rome. I wanted to write a love letter to them and to the Mexican women who have put up with Mexican men, more than with legends or folklore".

Maya and the Three has nine episodes of 30 minutes each that is available on the streaming platform soon. The series was filmed with the same budget as a 3D animated movie, a 270 series with that technique and budget had never been done before in animation.

Among the influences that Jorge R. Gutiérrez captures in the animation are pieces that he discovered as a child in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. "More than anything I liked the interpretation of the artists of that time to the culture, because for me they were like toys, also full of skulls". Local influences can also be identified, such as the work of Mexican muralists Jorge González Camarena, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, or Rufino Tamayo. But also from classic films such as The Wizard of Oz, among others.

Maya and the Three has a soundtrack scored by Gustavo Santaolalla, who, according to the director, managed to capture the musicality of all Latin America. "The idea of taking local music and making it universal is something he brings in his blood and his history. The proposal was that he didn't want to do the traditional music of Mesoamerica, and Gustavo more than put. The soundtrack is orchestral and was recorded in Australia".