Cuca spends his time running around in the fields of his home. He frolics through the family farm, having fun chasing chickens and pulling on the tail of a horse. What looks like colorful marks of paint, develops into figures and locations that appear out of nowhere. As our energetic lead weaves around, his thoughts begin to grow, as he climbs higher and higher, floating among the stars, as they change with each passing turn. Tall green and red trees turn into slides, morph into mountains, shift to fluffy clouds, and end as he floats to the ground holding a balloon. This is just the beginning of his adventure that takes shape into this beautiful story.
When Cuca arrives home, in the distance, his father is leaving to catch a centipede-like train to the big city. The boy watches as it disappears into the page, his father is off to find work to support his wife and child. Below the surface of the images in Boy and the World, there is a message that Abreu sends about the struggles of the industrial, working labored life. Desperately seeking the love of his father, Cuca follows. Along the way, he will gain a partner in a friendly dog, but he will also see the struggle of hard work. There is an old man pulling a wagon behind him, leading to a field of various workers in cotton fields. Everything is in constant motion, reminiscent of Fritz Lang's workers in Metropolis. It continues to a cotton mill of employees, and eventually leading to a man working in a towering big city, overlooking the working class.
This is essentially a silent film. The various characters that we encounter who do speak (Cuca, his mother, father), talk in a sort of gibberish language, which begins to make sense. Meanwhile, the wood flute and uplifting score of Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat, fits perfectly, whisking you away into the dreamlike state of the film. It is hard not to have the five note tune that Cuca plays on his flute stuck in your head, long after the film ends.
It is not all gloom and doom, as the vibrancy of colors makes even the darkest of situations bright. There is a beautiful message of family at the core here, and although the likeness of characters in constant motion caused a bit of confusion for me, it does not lose one's attention. I am reminded of other adventurous animated films, such as An American Tail or last years Song of the Sea. Although, don't let the comparisons muddle the films originality. There is an attention to the colored pencil detail that rises above those others.
Here is a chance for audiences to step outside the boundaries of animation they typically see today. Boy and the World, is a brisk, energetic, one of a kind film, that is worthy of praise. It may even spark the imagination in all of us. I found it to be an impressive film to experience.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: BOY & THE WORLD
STARRING: VINICIUS GARCIA; ALE ABREU; LU HORTA
DIRECTED BY: ALE ABREU
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Boy and the World is a film that takes an artistic journey, diving into our imaginations, made entirely out of colored pencils. On the surface, the animation looks simple. It starts with a blank white screen, and then it begins to light up with finely detailed, colorful drawings. This Brazillian film, from writer-director Ale Abreu, follows the actions of a boy named Cuca, who is drawn as nothing more than a stick figure, wearing a red striped colored shirt. That sounds simplistic, yet this style of animation that surrounds him is unique and alive, popping with bright colors, like a book of childhood drawings brought to life. I was quite enamored with Boy and the World, as it ventures into an animated abyss and a joyous journey worthy of experiencing.