The Boy and the World

On this years’ Oscar nominees list we discover an unusual animated feature film, produced by Filme de Papel and directed by Alê Abreu. The Brazilian studio was founded in 1991 in order to create animated films, in a world where animation often meant advertising. After a few shorts, their first feature film was released in 2008 „Garoto Cósmico”, followed by the very recent „O Menino e o Mundo”, released in 2014.

The history of Brazilian animation is relatively recent. In 1917 was made public the first animation, a short one. In 1953 is created the first animated feature, but in black and white, and in 1972 is released the first color animation feature film. In 2011, several cable children’s channels were forced to develop Brazilian original series, mostly cartoons. Today, the Brazilian animation is reaching new heights and its value is being acknowledged. The fact that we have one animation feature film nominated for an Oscar is a big deal.

„O Menino e o Mundo” (The Boy and the World) presents the life of a round headed little boy, whose world is being shattered by the departure of his father. This will determine him to go in a long adventure in the search of his father, so he can reunite the family again.

The animation is created using a very minimalist drawing, reduced to essential, in order to outline the world just like is seen by the little boy. The colors are soft and light, the earth is mainly white with small colored dots and lines and the sky, viewed mostly on sunset, is an explosion of colors. There is no dialogue, only gestures and sounds. Music is the most important here, as it marks the essential moments of the story.

The little boys’ search for his father is not just a journey; it’s a process leading him to maturity. The train travel is presented as a series of memories, ending with the rain that turns everything black. Entering the grown-ups world is like entering a weird, unknown and dull world; it’s a futuristic civilization, highly industrialized, perverted, brain-washed by all the advertising, full of signs telling them what to do/where to go, grey buildings and cables all over, in contrast with the simple and peaceful village life. The story is about this clash between the city and the village life; the hand crafted and the mechanized, the rich and the poor. Despite all this, peoples’ soul beats on as a song, in full harmony with the stunning visuals; the simple flute song, the samba and the Brazilian hip-hop in harmony with the explosion of colors, just like a carnival.

In the end we discover that each part of the little boys’ journey was, in fact, a stage of his development as a grown-up. The family is like a permanence that maintains the existence of this simple and colorful world.