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Title: Boy and the World

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:84

“Boy and the World” was NOT something I had ever expected. I saw the cover on a press release and was mildly curious, but it didn’t click in my head that this was the same “Boy and the World” taken from the Brazilian children’s storybook. While the veneer of the film is easy enough for children to digest and gloss over any deep meaning, what lies underneath is much more complex, acting as an antithesis to the extremely childlike animation style at play here. The main subject matter of the film seems to revolve around a young boy searching for his father amidst the horrors and oppression that is modern day Brazil. A world over run by Oligarchy and greed, where the poor workers slave all day long in the fields, while rich plantation style owners get rich and fat off of the fruits of their labor. It’s painful to watch, and incredibly poignant in the message, but the film is also incredibly sweet and will have a tear coming from the eye of even the most hardened cinema viewer.

The main plot revolves around a nameless young boy who is privy to seeing his father leave his mother and himself, probably to seek out better employment to provide for his family. The days and weeks go by, and the young child can’t comprehend why his loving father is not coming back to them every night like he has in the past. Desperate to find him, the young boy goes out into the world to find his missing parent. Along the way he comes across several different people who take the young child under his wing. An old migrant worker, sick and coughing with a lung disease, then a young street musician who allows the boy to borrow his bicycle in hopes of catching a glimpse of his father on the arriving train, or just striking out on his own, allowing the wonder and horrors of life to just wash over him in his travels.

The actual finding of his father is surprisingly beside the point if you pay close attention. It certainly is to the young boy, but in the grand scheme of things as well as the main thesis of the film it is actually just another moment in a person’s life. Director Ale Abreu paints a heavy picture about the social life of Brazil in the modern days, pulling no punches as we watch the young boy travel through life and all of the pain that is present in the country today. We see the migrant workers in rags and little hovels, toiling all day to pick cotton and weave it into cloth for the fat cats who arrive in their space age style cars (an exaggeration that gets the point of across in regards to the class disparity in their society), surrounded by faceless goons dressed in black. Even the handshake and salute mirrors a Heil Hitler style greeting as well as the Nazi SS bird of prey symbol being used over the cotton factory door. We watch in sadness as the poor workers that this boy comes across are put out of a job as machines come in to take over human labor, and the factory workers are forced to compete with the already over worked and under payed field workers.

The heart of the Brazilian cities is portrayed as very steampunkish, with heavy iron girders and skyscrapers that go up for hundreds of feet, while the poor people live in the outskirts in sheet metal shacks and leaky roofed houses. The military might is ominous and scary, sending an oppressive shroud over everything it touches, but still, the heart of the movie is not about the pain that the boy sees. Instead it focuses on the search for happiness amidst such pain and the sometimes futile want for said joy. Still, despite the intense social messages portrayed, the underlying theme is one of hope and joy. Finding the best things in life and allowing your worldview to not be tainted by all of the realities that sometimes work to drive us into sadness and depression.


Rated PG for thematic material and images

Video :4.5stars:
I have no verification from any sources, but from the way the image looks, I would hazard a guess that “Boy and the World” was a digital production and done quite nicely I might add. The box boasts a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, but it looks like Universal opened it up ever so slightly as the end result is actually 1.78:1. Still, the image looks magnificent, with the child like animation style looking resplendent with all of the brightly colored changes as well as the charcoal style drawings blending into a very smooth and seamless animation style. Jaggies (besides intentional ones) are nowhere to be seen and the hypnotic shift from strongly colored sequences to ones that seem to have nothing but a white backdrop all look well detailed, with every mark of the charcoal pencil evident for all to see. Blacks are deep and inky, with only a flicker or two of banding that my eyes noticed, and the shadow detail is impressive.

Audio :4.5stars:
The Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA track may little to no dialog throughout except for a few lines here and there, but the audio track itself is nearly impeccable. The weight of the audio is taken by the melodic folksy score as well as the inclusion of background sound effects that create the story FOR the young child. The banging of police batons inside the city reverberate loudly, as do the monstrous trucks and ships that the boy comes across during his travels. The music flows throughout the track, acting as a guide to the story, accenting things when the going gets tough, and mimicking the child’s upbeat personality as he marvels at the changing world around him. LFE is punchy and powerful, with several earth shaking scenes, and the tracks dynamic range is actually impressively wide. The 5.1 audio is a bit strange at times, but easily one of the very best parts of the film as it and the animation style are what drive the plot forward, despite the lack of dialog.

Extras :1.5stars:

• “The Making of Boy and the World”
• Music Video by Emicida
• Theatrical trailer

Overall: :4stars:

“Boy and the World” is one of those rare films that completely blindsides you. I hadn’t even realized it was out in the market until I saw the press release and was intrigued by the unique animation style. I still wasn’t expecting a whole lot as I had zero knowledge of the source material when I heard about it, but was completely blown away by the fairly intricate, yet simple, story that had me snuffling into my hanky by the end of the very short 81 minute runtime. It works for children, as the simplistic plot and low dialog allow for the cute animation to enthrall young ones, but it also comes with some heavy undertones about life and growing up that adults will be more apt to catch. Audio and video are simply marvelous, and even though the disc is light on extras, it’s still WELL worth watching.

Additional Information:

Starring: Vinicius Garcia, Marco Aurelio Campos, Lu Horta
Directed by: Ale Abreu
Written by: Ale Abreu
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: Portuguese: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG
Runtime: 81 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 5th, 2016

Buy Boy and the World On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Great Watch

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