On July 5, one of the best animated films of the past few years is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD
. Alê Abreu’s Boy and the World
, which was released by GKIDS in the States just before Christmas last year and nominated for a 2015 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, is a mesmerizing, near-wordless adventure in which a stick-figure child ventures from the country to the city in search of his father.
Using a combination of crayon drawing and magazine collage, Abreu creates a universe based around patterns of circles and straight lines. The boy himself isn’t much more than a circle hovering above a t-shirt created from five red dashes, but the graphic simplicity of the film’s protagonist belies Abreu and his team’s astonishing draftsmanship. The ever-morphing world around the boy veers from abstraction to realism: from scenes of tiny figures dwarfed by white space (my favorite involves a train snaking into the distance) to scenes which are a riot of color and detail. And the film itself, in its journey from rural simplicity to urban complexity, takes us from moments of melancholy serenity to sequences overflowing with ecstatic movement and noise.
The poster for the film, which situates the boy’s world in all its intoxicating and whimsical detail around a mandala-like pattern that features in the film’s climax, beautifully and succinctly expresses both the vibrancy and the variety of Abreu’s world, its structural patterns, and its rapturous use of color. The designer, Paul Jeffrey of Passage, who has worked with GKIDS quite often, had an embarrassment of riches to work with, which I’m sure did not make his job any easier. Movie poster designers often have one or two great stills at best to create a campaign around, whereas Paul had frame after frame of inspiration. So it is no surprise that he came up with more as-good-as-finished comps for the poster than I have ever seen for any film. Nearly any one of them could have worked as a final design.
The comps were all created using low res screenshots that Paul took while watching the film. To build the final poster, Abreu, who was very much involved in the process, provided the the original art files he used for the animation.
And let’s not ignore Paul’s inspired title treatment for the final design which again works off Abreu’s systems of circles and lines and its candy-colored palette.
Below are some of the designs Paul came up with for the film, starting with a number of fascinating variations on the final design. And keep scrolling to the bottom for a chance to win a signed copy of the poster.
And here is the original Brazilian poster for the film.
As a special offer for MUBI Notebook readers, GKIDS are giving away a signed Boy and the World poster. All you have to do is tweet a link to this article before July 6, with any comment you like and the hashtag #BoyandWorldposter, and you will be entered into a draw to win a poster signed, and doodled on, by the director. (Poster can only be mailed to a US address I'm afraid.)