Luiz Bolognesi's RIO 2096: A STORY OF LOVE AND FURY
Film review by Dennis D. McDonald
The title in Portuguese: Uma História de Amor e Fúria
In this 2013 feature-length animated Brazilian film, an immortal hero fights and loves his way through four different time periods stretching from the jungles of precolonial Brazil to Rio de Janeiro in the year 2096.
Each time he meets and falls in love with the same head strong woman. Each time he engages with revolutionary movements that pit a small band of resisters against the powers that be. Sometimes the powers are the easy-to-recognize “rich and powerful” and their military. In the future the battle is over access to water in an ultramodern but socially and economically divided Rio De Janeiro.
Stylistically the film combines hand drawn human characters with richly colored lush backgrounds and almost abstract CGI. Color palettes are vibrant and shift from scene to scene. It’s a mesmerizing combination that emphasizes nature and its contrasts. In the final future sequence we also see grandiose Blade-Runner-esque urban angularities.
English subtitles are sparse but serviceable. It’s pretty easy to tell what’s going on. Love interests, good guys, and bad guys are clearly defined.
If I had any complaints it’s the overall simplicity of the constantly repeated “us versus them” story. It’s a dialectic that’s easy to display but one which students of history may recognize as overly simplistic. Strong contrasts in virtue make it easy for us to identify with one side or the other. Not every film can successfully explore cultural complexity especially one that attempts to bridge the ages like this one. Rio 2096 is nevertheless an imaginative and admirable entry.
Given the sophistication of Rio 2096, I wonder what a good animated version of George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia would look like. Back in 1936 Orwell threw himself headlong as a volunteer into the Spanish Civil War. He discovered and in his book documented the evil that existed on both sides of the fence separating communists and fascists. Orwell, as idealistic as he was, realized the struggle then was less about freedom and independence than about naked grasps for power. To some extent that message comes through as well in Rio 2096. It’s a message that deserves a wide audience.
Review copyright 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald. An edited version of this review was published in aNewDomain.net.