Producers with the courage to deviate from the mainstream, especially in such a risk-averse country as Brazil, are few and far between. Even harder to find are those that carry the hint of a trend.
That’s the case with the Brazilian animation “The Boy and the World” – screenplay written by Alê Abreu, who also directed.
The entire film was designed with handcrafted materials. Coloring pencils, crayons, watercolor and newspaper and magazine cutouts; the film adopts an alternative yet extremely rich sound production and even an unintelligible language – sometimes it’s impossible to understand the characters speaking “Oninem”, which is “Menino” (boy) spelled backwards.
At the end of the film I even commented to Samira, who was with me in the cinema hall, how interesting I found the use of Illustrator, of 3D software together with Cintiq which they had so obviously used… only to see the making-of and my jaw dropping (for that one more reason) when I found out it was all… handcrafted.
Handcrafted and beautiful. It approaches the essence of a child, of what a child can make.
That brings us to another point of discussion: the huge lack of content in currently available interactive books. It’s funny how many producers try so hard to do something “technologically magnificent” without giving so much thought to the content that they are selling. The result is that there is a whole pile of 3D books with Hollywood-type production and poor content, compared to, for example, “Peppa”, whose videos, books and other transmedia pieces are bestsellers in several countries because, even though they are simple, they are highly recommended by teachers and educators… and for some reason “mysteriously” loved by children!
The boy in Alê Abreu’s film follows the same logic: “simple without being simplistic”, thereby resulting a compelling character.
We see that the combination of handcrafts with technology is a great trend, and for this reason most of the time making our most recent app book (Via Láctea (“Milky Way”) by Olavo Bilac) was spent on the good old drawing board and in discussions surrounding the reading experience that we aimed to provide, since the work in question is a poem.
Obviously the technical process makes the app exist, work, and be available in App Stores and in iOS and Android devices (both tablets and mobile phones), but the main objective was not to surprise on the technology side, or to pretend that literature could become a big-bucks business, like the game and cinema industries, especially outside Brazil.
Our goal, precisely like that of the “O Menino e o Mundo” (“The Boy and the World”) animation, was to tell a touching story, in a pleasant and not-easily-forgettable manner, to be rehashed and retold by anyone who was touched and carried away by the textual, visual or poetic content – which, at the end of the day, will always be the valuable core of any cultural production.
The must-see “O menino e o Mundo” (“The boy and the World”) is in theaters (a huge feat in itself for a national animation!) at the Espaço Itaú de Cinema and at CineSesc (considerably more affordable). (Sorry folks, it’s no longer playing at SESC!). It tells the story of a boy who sets out to search for his father and experiences an unbelievable day, filled with feelings, poetry, and also the harsh reality of the adult world. Its message however goes beyond that: it explores the loss of our child-ingenuity, but also how it is possible, despite the hardship of the world around us, to retain the “child” within us.
Holding on to, salvaging the inner “child” in each of us, is in our opinion one of the strongest statements literature can make (especially that subset termed “children’s literature”).
Overlaying technology on this is the same as to assume that the adult world would bring satisfaction and realization to the boy in Alê Abreu’s story.