One of the great things the Oscars does for animation is to bring to the forefront smaller foreign films and there is perhaps no better example than this year’s nomination for Boy and the World. Directed and animated by Alê Abreu, his vision created a beautiful and energetic film full of great visuals and music.
Boy and the World is about a little boy named Cuca who lives in a small village. He loves his daddy and is heartbroken when he has to go away to the big city to find employment.
Eventually he goes after his father and on his way meets a kaleidoscope of colors, images, and people. This includes scenes of a factory, a government preparing for war, an ocean, and a landfill.
There really is no dialogue in Boy and the World, so mostly it is a movie that conveys messages via its imagery. It’s kind of like the live-action Tree of Life in that regard- not really about a plot but more a piece of artistic expression. As you can see from the images the film uses some real photography, some papier-mâché , and simple stick figures for the characters.
But adding to the images we have the infectious music that brightens up many a dour scene. The score by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat combines pan-flute, samba, and Brazilian hip-hop in a way that made me want to dance. It’s so much fun!
You can get some of the feel for the visuals and music in the trailer:
All that said, Boy and the World isn’t for everyone (as will always be the case with any artistic endeavor). There were a few times when I thought the artistic exploration was a bit self-indulgent. I got the visual and it kept going for a few more minutes than it probably should have. Also, some of the messages about war and the evils of industry were a bit heavy-handed.
That said, congrats to Alê Abreu and the entire team for their beautiful film. And GKIDS did a great job getting these films distributed and noticed. They are such an essential part of the current animation landscape.
Overall I’d give Boy and the World four out of five stars.
Other reviews in this series:
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes