Editor’s Notes: The Boy and the World opens in limited theatrical release today, December 11th.
The Boy and the World, originally titled O Menino e o Mundo tell the simplistically beautiful story of a Boy, who, sparked by the disappearance of his father, embarks on a journey to find his dad and get his family back together. As his journey takes him across the world, the Boy is confronted with themes of civilization, industrialization and rationalization, all themes, which eventually build and expand the mind of the Boy, which we’re first acquainted with. As the Boy ages and ages, there is a vastly interesting story at play; one which analyzes the differences between industrialized society and village life, as well as the relations between the wealthy and those in poverty.
It beautifully uses colours to its advantage, and beyond that, creates a totally unique-looking world, yet they maintain the values of present society so that it’s still evocative of the one we live in.
It seems as if in recent years, animation has lost the certain finesse that it used to possess. Though I did like films such as Frozen and How To Train Your Dragon, I’m not as captured in emotion by these films as I was of Disney classics such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. It’s not often that I feel taken into a new world by animation - the exceptions coming to mind being The Secret World of Arietty and The Book of Life. These may not be my favourite animated films, but when I look back on them, they were able to remove me from my reality, and create an incredible atmosphere. It’s incredible how animators created that world. Same goes with films ranging from Cinderella to Son of the White Mare. So naturally, when the opening shots of The Boy and the World began, I was ecstatic.
This film is the perfect usage of the animation. It beautifully uses colours to its advantage, and beyond that, creates a totally unique-looking world, yet they maintain the values of present society so that it’s still evocative of the one we live in. And that’s the thing I think most modern animated films try too hard to do - to appeal to the masses by creating characters that are just like us. Though doing this is well intentioned, it takes away from the medium of the film. When I go into an animated film, I’m expecting to be taken away from reality, and put into a fantasy- based escape. And that’s what The Boy and the World does extremely well. It masterfully removes you reality, and puts you in a world with an individual known solely as The Boy. And from there, we’re taken on an extraordinary adventure that can be described simply by the title of the film. This is the story of The Boy and The World.
The best part of this film surely is the visuals; this is spectacular animation, Ale Abreu is able to create an incredibly vibrant, different world. Abreu obviously has a vision for the outcome of this film - the animation is simplistic, yet it doesn’t disappoint. Yes, for the most part, the individuals are drawn quite simply, and the same can be said about most of the sets. But the fascinating thing is that simplicity. It gives the film a genuine look, one that inserts a human-factor behind these characters. It looks genuine because it is genuine - Ale Abreu drew all the drawings by hand. And though the film has a few dialogue scenes, these scenes are spoken in an invented language. Why? To show that these characters can talk, but dialogue isn’t necessary to drive the story.
We see The Boy, we feel The Boy, and we understand The Boy. That’s why everything fits together - audiences are met with an individual they can sympathize with . . .
What drives the story is the audience’s attachment to the young boy, who gradually begins to age. The visuals are enough to indicate to the viewer what’s happening in the film - from the moment he picks up his parent’s picture to when he has flashbacks of his parents planting a Cherry Blossom tree with him. Everything that happens shows that these characters indeed have human emotions, and that’s what keeps audiences interested and intrigued as the film progresses. We see The Boy, we feel The Boy, and we understand The Boy. That’s why everything fits together - audiences are met with an individual they can sympathize with, for no other reason than the fact that everybody’s been through adversity at some point in their lives. You meet a variety of people on your journey, you enlist the support of your diligence and at the end of the day, you have to accept that you’ll win some, and you’ll lose some.
The Boy and the World isn’t a commonly seen film, but it should be. The ideas presented are sound enough for both children and adults alike - the theme of overcoming adversity is one that anyone could get behind. The visuals are among the best-animated visuals I’ve ever seen. And the storyline, though simple, is undeniably captivating as we watch The Boy embark on a lifelong journey to seek out his father, and intentionally or not, discovers himself along the way.
The visuals are among the best-animated visuals I've ever seen. And the storyline, though simple, is undeniably captivating as we watch The Boy embark on a lifelong journey to seek out his father, and intentionally or not, discovers himself along the way.