With No Language, Boy Speaks Volumes

In his novel What Maisie Knew, Henry James instructs us that “small children have many more perceptions than they have terms to translate them; their vision is at any moment much richer, their apprehension even constantly stronger than their at all producible vocabulary.” Perhaps this is why our protagonist is clamped silent; he can’t possibly describe his adventures traveling from familial, rural hills to a bustling metropolis in Brazil. From the cotton fields in the country through the cranes and construction of the city, not a single word is uttered. To be sure, Boy and the World is not a silent film, but rather a film that uses unconventional, non-linguistic methods to characterize. Directed, animated and written by Alê Abreu, this 80 minute movie astounds viewers with its ability to communicate a young boy’s feelings about his father’s departure from their family home without featuring any coherent language system.