Boy & the World

When a child’s father leaves his home in a small village to seek work in the city, his young son, not understanding why his father has left, sets out on a mission to find him.

That’s the plot of Brazilian director Alê Abreu’s dramatically obscure but stunningly animated film. We’re encouraged to experience the world through the boy’s eyes. If his world doesn’t always make sense to us, that may be the point. The world is a jumble to a young boy, and the result is a brilliant and visually compelling adventure. The film was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2015 (Inside Out won, however). last act does take a bit of a U-turn into a message movie—the well-worn, eco-political, nature-good, man/technology-bad meme. Interestingly, this movie started out as a documentary about South America, but it soon turned into an animated feature with the doc- umentary’s themes imbedded within it—and not subtly. Could it be that the original documentary might have been a bit uncomfortable for Brazil with the then-upcoming 2016 Olympics?

The film’s main weakness is that its theme is more likely to appeal to older animation buffs than to the wider (under 10) animation audience. During the film’s opening sequences, I wondered if it could hold my interest for its full 81-minute run time.

It did. The film is a video feast, and the HD transfer is flawless. How could it not be, with its brilliant colors and nearly psychedelic images? While I’d love to see it in UHD, that’s not likely. It was not a commercial success in the U.S. (with a box office of under $50,000), so its release on HD Blu-ray is something of a miracle.

But there’s more here to experience than just eye-boggling images. If anything, the soundtrack is even more interesting. There’s very little dialogue (and what there is consists, according to reports—I’m no linguist—of Portuguese played backwards). The music is an incredible jumble of jazz, pop, and new age, with frequently unidentifiable instrumentation, all of it brilliantly recorded. And while that thematic shift in the last act may have elicited an eye-rolling “not this again” reaction from me, those sequences do provide some of the most dramatic, audio-system-exercising sounds in the film. I’ll definitely watch—and listen to—this film again.

The extras include a short making-of featurette, a music video (Brazilian rap), and a theatrical trailer.

Studio: Universal, 2015
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 81 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Alê Abreu
Starring: Vinicius Garcia, Marco Aurélio Campos, Lu Horta