Arts, Culture & Media

A magical, animated tale from Brazil is up for an Oscar

Menino_Mundo_15.jpg

Image from the film "Boy and the World"

Credit:

Alê Abreu

At the Academy Awards on Sunday night, the Brazillian film Boy and the World, directed by Alê Abreu, hopes to take home the Oscar for best animated feature.

Player utilities

Listen to the Story.

Two artistic elements of the film make it especially unique.

One is the lack of dialogue. And what dialogue there is in Portuguese — backwards! But really, what sets this film apart is that it's told more with music than words. The music was composed by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurtat.

"I think it was a huge opportunity, I mean to take it just to a lyrical, a poetic dimension by using music as a main form of telling the story," Feffer explains.

"Boy and The World" is about a boy who goes on a journey to find his dad, after the father leaves the family to find work. It's a tough journey into a sometimes cruel world.

And it's portrayed with a touch of what some critics have called "magical realism," even in the soundtrack. 

"The music gives it a naïve character. It's always discovering. If you're finding sorrow, it's the discovering of sorrow. But at the same time, for instance, we see war tanks in some images, but the war tanks look like elephants and other animals," Feffer says. "The machine guns, when portrayed, they look like percussion instruments. So everything is taken to a poetic or dreamlike view. Always very imaginative, always like the child sees the world."

There's an underlying political subtext too.

Think globalization, poverty, police brutality — even migrant workers in a cotton field. Topics not often covered by an animated film. 

"It's a very non-American film if you come to think of it. And the US is seemingly open to this kind of expression, so this fills me with joy to see the possibility of different styles of artistic expression being out there, you know," Feffer says.