Sometimes, the most beautiful pieces of art are the simplest. Free of clutter and superfluous content, some films do not try anything fancy to get their point across. Boy & the World is such a movie, an animated feature from Brazil that for many has flown under their radar. Which is a shame, because Boy & the World shines brilliantly in a genre overcrowded with 3D animation. Boy & the World takes a simple idea and runs with it. None of its messages are new or ground-breaking, but one look at this movie, and you’ll know that you are looking at a visual masterpiece.
The film is so simple that even as far as plots go there’s not much substance. Our main character is a boy who in the movie is referred to as Menino, which is coincidentally Portuguese for “boy”. Menino watches as his father leaves him and his mother in the countryside to travel to the city for work. Unable to handle the loss, Menino attempts to go after him and begins an incredible adventure to find his father and bring him home. Along the way, he meets a colourful cast of characters and experiences an expansive world beyond his tiny house. It is clear that the filmmakers had a goal in mind when making the film as what starts off as a standard journey to find a loved one shifts to a commentary on the nature of industrialization and its cost to the planet. The transition is a significant part of the narrative, however by the film’s end neither plotline comes to a satisfactory conclusion. This partially has to do with the movie’s twist at the end, but what is meant as interesting plot dynamic leaves the audience a little confused as to what the point of it all was. However story issues aside, the film’s real draw is the animation and sound design.
As the movie is about a boy experiencing the world around him, it only makes sense that the art style is childish in aesthetic. Boy & the World, however, takes it to a level that works so well it is hard to believe what you see on screen. Every scribbled-in shape and poorly drawn flower adds surprising depth to the world as witnessed by a child. Even as he explores his surroundings and see machines and big cities, every detail is blended beautifully with the rest of the crayon drawings and collage-like structures. What you get is a multi-media tour de force that stimulates all the senses. Every sound is impeccable in representing not just a musical note or sound effect, but an idea for this world’s inhabitants. The contrast of the colours of natures and the dark shades of industry and pollution, all these details make or one of the most stunning pieces of animation I’ve seen in a long time.
Beyond the gorgeous pictures, there’s not much to Boy & the World. However, sitting there in the theatre watching the stunning landscapes made me that much more curious about the world of Menino and his family. If you consider yourself a fan of animation, you should experience this film for yourself.