Beautiful Hand-Drawn Tale Of A Boy Searching For His Papa
DIRECTOR: ALÊ ABREU / BRAZIL / 2015
Vibrant! Breathtaking! Dazzling! Exuberant! Alê Abreu’s (The Scarecrow, Garoto Cósmico) Oscar Nominated hand-drawn film Boy and the World is a total delight for the eyes, ears and heart! As magical and imaginative as Dr. Seuss and with all the whimsical air of Tomm Moore’s Song of the Sea, Boy and the World is stunning. I literally wish this entire review could be stills from the film. The more you see the colors and the genius of the animation, the more you will desire to see Boy and the World. Brazilian director Abreu’s choice to animate using pencil, crayon and collage reflects the viewpoint of the subject of the film. What’s real and what’s imagined? It’s hard to tell when you’re young and everything is bigger than you!
In Boy and the World little Cuca, a naive and fearless boy lives in a small village with his mother and father. Times are tough and his father leaves to work in the towering and distant big city. Cuca decides to adventure out with only a picture of his family to find the father he misses. Along the way he is taken in by an elderly man in the cotton fields and a mercantile worker in the big city. He sees the differences between the poor and the rich, between a handmade product and machine replicated item and between a vibrant revolution and the political military. He watches while locust-like machines gobble up forests and put many men that look just like his father out of work. Many have said this is Abreu’s way of commenting on the current problems with culture and economy in South America and it’s probably true. For a movie with so few words the message is strong and loud. But there is another story in Boy and the World that is much more compelling and far less cynical.
At the core of Boy and the World is a son who loves his father enough to go look for him in the world beyond his peaceful home. There is a powerful bond between child and parent, between boy and dad. This is the part that resonates with me. While I’m an middle-aged lady and not a wee wide-eyed boy, I still love my daddy and I miss him all the time. Little Cuca misses his father’s flute, his father’s tune and it’s that tune that leads him on his journey through-out the big world. Abreu uses men in the life of little Cuca in a wonderful way. They provide for him, carry him, teach him and offer companionship and joy in the dark isolating world. They are generous to Cuca, giving him the only food or the only bike they have so that he can continue on. It’s sacrificial! It’s this beautiful story of love and generosity that allows Abreu to “Soap Box” about the current state of economics and culture in Brazil, South America and the world. The story of love is needed in order to confront. “In my view the main theme is the loss and search for a father. It is not an uncommon theme in Latin American cinema and symbolically refers to the search for a father in the sense of homeland.” Abreu said this past January.
It’s the story of a child’s love for his parent that will stick with you long after the film is over.
My favorite scene in the film is when Cuca is hustled and bustled into the city without knowing a single person. He follows a man with a colorful hat up a long flight of stairs. It’s dark, late and Cuca cannot continue. The kind young man carries Cuca on his shoulders to his small apartment and gives him a safe place to stay for the night. You’ve been there, in a strange place and longing for honest kindness from anyone. It’s worth more than any treasure in the world!
Boy and the World is thought provoking, heartfelt and ALIVE with color and music! It doesn’t end how you expect it too and it is a total treat to watch. I dare you to watch it and not want to instantly draw and color afterwards. You will wish that music truly created blue and orange bubbles that unite people. PS… The samba-infused score by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat is brilliant and speaks volumes to Cuca’s journey. And you will love, miss and be a little more thankful for your “Poppers” and the sacrifices that your parents make.
(PS… I know I went a little heavy on the pictures for this review but with art this wonderful I feel it’s licensed. #SorryNotSorry)