Boy and the World
Dir: Ale Abreu
(Brazil, U, 1hr 15mins)
The good people over at Gentle/Radical are screening this beautiful Brazilian animation over half-term for families, and it’s a superb choice they’ve picked too. This writer remembers reading plenty about Boy and the World way back when it was first released, but it’s one of those films that never really had a chance to find an audience the size of which it deserves – though completely dialogue-less, the sell of an independent, foreign animation with a ecological and progressive outlook is always going to be touch amidst the crash-bang-wallop of modern kid’s cinema.
For anybody (of any age) going to see it, they can expect a superbly-drawn and eloquently-told tale. Using broad hand-drawn styles, the visual world of Boy and the World is endearingly simple and effective – just a stick figure with two thick lines for eyes is all we need to identify our main character and the people he meets – but within that simplicity there is a whole world of imagination. The story too is stripped down; we follow a young boy who lives in a rural area. Due to poverty, his father one day leaves for the city, and the boy decides to follow him, where he gets lost in a world of machinery, industrialisation and alienation. It’s a simple parable of ecological destruction and anti-industrialisation that puts it not a million miles removed from the themes of Hayao Miyazaki, even if the visual style is more Don Hertzfeldt.
Even if the parable is arguably too simplistic and one-note at times, there is still a wide-eyed sense of wonder to most of the film. Even the ones depicting the back-breaking drudgery of low-paid manual labour that the boy witnesses seem to marvel at the sheer mass of humanity that finds themselves undertaking such work. The film gracefully includes counterbalancing notes to such drudgery – there is a beautiful score throughout, taking much from the variety and breadth of Brazil’s regional music and its many rhythms and tones.
Boy and the World has a lovely, charming touch. At only 75 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome at all either (I’m always reminded of the classic Roger Corman quote: “there’s not a movie out there that can’t be improved by losing a third of its running time”). It’s not the most in-depth film you’ll find out there, but it has a brilliant way of communicating to people of all ages and backgrounds, and is well worth seeking out.
words Fedor Tot
Boy and the World screens on Mon 29 Oct at Shree Kutchi Leva Patel Samaj. Tickets: £5.50-£1. Info available here