Tito and the Birds
The animated Brazilian parable and fantasy Tito and the Birds crafts dazzling images through a combination of line drawings, painterly brush work, and computer animation in service of a story that blends childlike imagination with modern day social and political fears.
Ten year old Tito wants to pick up the scientific work of his father who vanished before unveiling his greatest invention. Tito’s dad believed that at one point in human history, birds would provide easily understood warnings to people about impending dangers, and Tito begins to suspect that the birds are trying once again to provide guidance. An “outbreak” has started to occur that turns otherwise healthy looking human beings into useless, crippled, immobile lumps. The mysterious disease is triggered by fear, and it’s up to Tito and his friends to reach out to the bird community and hopefully find a solution before it’s too late to reverse the effects of the “infection.”
It sounds like a strange comparison, but Tito and the Birds plays a bit like a vastly less intense children’s version of Bruce McDonald’s language based outbreak thriller Pontypool, and I mean that in a good way. While it’s easy viewing for the eight and up crowd, filmmakers Gustavo Steinberg, Gabriel Bitar, and André Catoto never shy away from the darkness lying beneath the surface. And through the film’s villain, Tito and the Birds provides one of the best treatises yet on how the media uses scare tactics to keep consumers of the 24-hour news cycle paralyzed with rapt attention. There are cute and silly moments, but this is also a very smart and timely work of animated cinema.