A fascinating documentary framed in the world where history and investigative journalism collide, Belisario Franca's Boy 23: The Forgotten Boys of Brazil is a documentary of startling poignancy, chronicling Brazil's sordid past, everyday struggles with racism, and the tragic circumstances which found fifty black boys taken from their orphanage in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s, who were numbered and enslaved by a family of Nazi sympathizers who were a part of the political and economic elite of the country. Examining these events from both an historical and personal perspective, Boy 23: The Forgotten Boys of Brazil is a tragic story of pain, loss, and power, deconstructing the toxic dynamics which exist between power, oppression, eugenics, and racism, letting the historians provide historical context while two survivors of this tragedy, as well as the family of a third, provide personal context to the vast toll such tragedy has on the individual. A fascinating history lesson into Brazil's dark past, Boy 23: The Forgotten Boys of Brazil combines stock footage, individual interviews, and reenactments in stark, black and white photography, to craft a film that isn't simply rooted in the past, but also the present, providing a warning sign for the future, showing a contemporary concern for the treatment of darker-skinned individuals due to a long history of oppression. While the historical context is important and fascinating, Boy 23's strength lies in its more intimate and personal moments involving the survivors of such tragedy, tapping into the longitudal, psychological effect such trauma can have on the individuals, revealing how these survivors stories and hardships were effectively swept under the rug, forgotten in the sea of time until recently, having been left to their own devices, which often included alcoholism and thievery, to survive. These young children were indotrinated into an environment of slavery and hardship, being so unprepared for freedom that when it did come they were simply unprepared for taking care of themselves in the real world. A tragic tale which found many young boys stripped of their youth and abandoned by many, Boy 23 is a startling and important chronicle of the lives lost, being a film that beautifully uses histroical context to point to the importance of less prejudices, and more empathy for others in the present.
Leave a Reply.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.