Hayao Miyazaki has reached a point in his life where there is so much change but he doesn’t know what to do with any of it. He’s reached an old age and has barely any strength any more to sit down and draw all day, but he has no idea what he’d be doing without a pencil or paper in his hand. At his old age he’s still a very curmudgeonly individual who demands perfection and treats his protégés with harsh criticism when they fail to deliver storyboards that meet his pitch perfect idea of what life is. Miyazaki has lived a full life, and in a way he’s ready to go.
Returns to theaters across the nation for a 20th Anniversary celebration, complete with a new 4K restoration. Premiered in theaters Thursday, January 5 in Japanese with English subtitles and will screen Monday, January 9 with an English dub at 7 p.m. local time. Tickets are available now. The event will also feature a screening of the never-before-released music video directed by Hayao Miyazaki, On Your Mark!
Back when “Princess Mononoke” hit the states in 1999, I literally had no idea who Hayao Miyazaki was. My teacher in high school kept a poster of the movie up on her bulletin board and I thought the movie looked amazing. Years after the Oscar buzz, I discovered “Princess Mononoke” and the brilliance of Studio Ghibli. The great thing about Studio Ghibli is there is no wrong way to enter in to their universe.
I’m very glad to say that “Princess Mononoke” was my first real experience with Hayao Miyazaki’s amazing cinematic contributions. After its Oscar buzz in 1997, I sought out the film, and was shocked at what I’d been missing from the master director. “Princess Mononoke” is probably Miyazaki’s broadest film, but one that also conveys a meaningful alllegory about the sanctity of nature, and how the wars of men can taint the sacred lands. It’s an action packed and incredible morality tale that will win over fantasy buffs instantly. “Princess Mononoke” is set in the Muromachi Period of Japan where a local village is attacked by a vicious amorphous demon. The bow and arrow wielding warrior Ashitaka, comes to the rescue of the village, fending off the demon and defeating it after a horrific battle, but the demon manages to corrupt his body with its vile darkness.
2013 signaled the final film release from master director Hayao Miyazaki with his gorgeous and somewhat controversial “The Wind Rises.” Though Studio Ghibli presses on with their slew of amazing films, Miyazaki will leave a large hole in filmmaking. We’ve been fanatics of Studio Ghibli for many years since we first saw “Kiki’s Delivery Service” in the late nineties and fell in love with Ghibli’s sense of awe and wonder. In celebration of the brilliant studio (that we often prefer over Disney, by the way), here are our top five films from Studio Ghibli.
“The Wind Rises” is such a beautiful note for Hayao Miyazaki to leave us on. It’s a bittersweet affair as a film and an animated feature, mainly because Miyazaki hasn’t lost his ability to tell stories. He’s the most incredible animator working today, and his retirement is heartbreaking because the man has many more years left to deliver lucid, entertaining and thought provoking stories to his fan base. “The Wind Rises” is not an explosive, fantastical exit for Miyazaki, but a respectful and quiet bow out. One that really does stick with you long after the credits have ended.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” is probably one of the weaker entries from Miyazaki. Miyazaki’s films have one thing for them that you can not deny. Originality. “Howl’s Moving Castle” is original, and it’s brutally entertaining, and that’s why I enjoyed this very much. Sure, I was watching the American dubbing (accidental, give me a break), but “Howl’s Moving Castle” possesses more unique fantasy elements and plot progression that really kept me in awe constantly. A scarecrow that follows our heroine like a lovesick dog? An old dog that weighs a ton? A little boy who masquerades as an old man? And a heroine who turns into an elderly woman sporadically? You take a look at Miyazaki’s universe and you’re nothing short of breath taken the entire time.
One of the first solo directing efforts for the master, Miyazaki, “Nausicaä” is a classic environmental monster fantasy epic concerning the usual Miyazaki themes. Of course the words “typical” and “Miyazaki” could never be used in the same sentence, and Nausicaä is a sheer precursor for future projects Miyazaki would embark upon. Your courageous martyr/heroine, the valiant humble hero, the mystifying figure, the wiser hero, and a government empire seeking to destroy the land. But it’s the way Miyazaki composes these arch-types that make his films worth watching without a doubt.
When the hacks at Disney decided to release Hiyao Miyazaki’s works on DVD, I was intrigued. I admit I’ve heard very little about Miyazaki and his works, but I was intrigued nonetheless. I’ve seen both “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, and “Princess Mononoke”, but little did I know with these movies were an actual legacy and fan following, so when I heard his films were being released on DVD, I stopped at the store and stocked up on a few of his films. The one I did hear most about though was this, and I was once again intrigued and very fascinated with what the cartoon looked like, and it’s a truly good film.