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  • Chandra Ingram

Tito e os pássaros: When a screen takes flight

If it wasn’t an animation film, it might fall into another category entirely—horror, thriller, drama. Some scenes would keep your toddler up at night if they weren’t represented by cartoon-like images. A charming and picturesque film, Tito e os Pássaros brings vibrant oil paintings to life with striking animations.

The moving pictures are surprisingly realistic and captivating in their complexity. They were perfectly aligned with the noises and voices coming from the screen. In one scene, a flock of pigeons carry the characters and their machine above the city. Suddenly they dip, and you physically feel yourself drop into the painting with them. In another, a bird leads you through the animated landscape and then explodes, transforming into another image entirely. The animations continually pull you through the paint.

Yet, the subtitles steal attention away from the already crowded screen. In addition to the transformative art, the language is so beautiful that your ears try to listen and your eyes sometimes forget to read. The flashing images in contrast to the small subtitles, therefore, felt distracting.

Tito e os Pássaros is a child-like tale that takes a few dark turns. The protagonist, Tito, is a timid yet fearless young boy who pursues a dream in the footsteps of his father. At the age of ten, Tito is already a risk-taking inventor. His latest invention nears a finished product, designed after his father’s controversial creation. If made correctly, the machine will connect him with the birds, or os pássaros. According to his father, the birds will save mankind.

Tito’s mother, portrayed as loony and nervous, embodies what is wrong with the world and foreshadows society’s looming destruction. Although she only cares deeply for her boy and thus becomes emphatically protective out of love, we see her push Tito further into his father’s tracks.

Sarah, Tito’s best friend, symbolizes the strength in mankind’s bravery. Together, the two friends take on the daunting epidemic that sweeps through their community and takes one of their dear friends with it. “Am I brave?” she asks Tito. But in the end Sarah’s bravery isn’t enough, when her love for her friend turns into fear.

The plot is often shifty and indirect; and the anecdotal message, although clearly attempting to make a statement about the climate in Brazil, is a bit cheesy and unconnected. Despite this, the animated artwork is most worth your while. Immediately, the paint washes over the screen, splashing with the waves and crackling like fire. The canvas quickly takes flight, and like the birds revolving the plot, you are flying with it. Brilliant pictures flash on the screen, seamlessly connected. Simultaneously, a thundering soundtrack ignites anticipation and power. The intense beat feels dangerous and carries the perilous mood throughout the film.

Tito e os Pássaros introduces a powerful quote at the beginning of the film—“You catch fear from ideas.” It’s a central message that the rest of the film seems to justmiss. The plot advances the idea. We understand that fear is dangerous and it will cause society to crumble. But the final resolution doesn’t leave the film feeling resolved, or truly connect back to that opening line. The antagonist appears to get away with his iniquitous intentions, and the narrator warns that mankind will probably fall into its fearful ways in the future. The film never shows us how these “ideas” turn into fear.

But then, just as I’m questioning the film’s message and implication, I’m once again swept away by the colorful strokes of a brush, lavishing the screen with endless beauty. So I leave the theater reassured, because the film is so powerful and creative, that it will leave a lasting impression to anyone with an open eye.

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