Do yourself an intellectual and emotional favor by watching Boy and the World tonight. Entitled formally as O Menino e o Mundo, the movie boldly splashes digital animation, sketching, and painting together onto one animated canvas that is as profound as it is simply beautiful. The production’s brilliant director is Alê Abreu, the Brazilian screenwriter and film director. Released originally in September 2013, Boy and the World has since been nominated at the 88th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and continually holds an almost 100% critic review on Rotten Tomatoes. Why? Because under its initially distracting visual layers, Boy and the World holds an in-depth discourse on Brazilian society, politics, and economics- a story never told quite like this before.
Boy and the World begins its journey with Cuca, a young child living in the countryside of a mythical and nondescript nation. We are immediately drawn into Cuca’s first childhood tragedy, which is his father leaving the countryside on a train in what appears to be a search for work. The train is destined for a far-away industrial city, a place of chaos and uncertainty both for the boy and his parents. Cuca is heartbroken by his father’s departure, and shortly afterwards embarks upon his own semi-accidental adventure to the same far-away city. On his journey Cuca encounters many things, some literal, some metaphorical, all of which represent different ways of survival both inside the city and out, and which catalogue the history and struggle of a city torn by rotten politics and economics.
Of course, we can only make interpretations of any and all of the scenes presented to us by Boy and the World. The dramatic mixture of symbolism and literal representation is what gives the movie its incredibly loud voice- an impressive feat for a movie that contains little to no dialogue. Scripted in Portuguese but barely containing two words together in any given scene, Boy in the World is a film devoid of speech somehow resounding with important messages about culture, politics, and even the core of human happiness.
Boy and the World makes strong references to Brazil as its inspiration for many of its scenes, but its overall messages of perseverance amid defeat, harmony amid chaos, complexity in simplicity, and the impregnable fortresses of art and hope are universal. It is a stunning film that will move you with its organic emotions and impeccable storytelling. Boy and the World, while having no written dialogue, speaks volumes, and viewers won’t soon forget its harrowingly authentic and beautifully crafted tale of humanity.