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Author Topic: The "Spirited Away" Memorial Kimes Family Thanksgiving Week Miyazaki Marathon  (Read 15695 times)

oldkid

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After such an epic thread title, I would think that perhaps I need not write anything else.  But you aren't so lucky.

Earlier this year, on a break from school, my girls and I watched the three Pirates movies in succession.  After such a stirring beginning, we decided to continue the tradition in this break, by watching a number of Miyazaki films.  We won't be watching Spirited Away, not only because we have watched it so many times already that it would be almost pointless, but also because Ferris has our copy right now.  But here are the ones we plan to overindulge ourselves with this Thanksgiving week:

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Princess Mononoke
Castle In The Sky
Porco Rosso
The Cat Returns
Kiki's Delivery Service
Howl's Moving Castle

This is the order we are planning on, but it may change with no notice.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

oldkid

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We kicked off the marathon tonight with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.







Someone once mentioned that it is a pretty long title, but with Miyazaki one must expect that occasionally, such as Ponyo on the Cliffs By the Sea.

Nausicaa is Miyazaki's second feature film, and the first that begins using the themes that reflect his later films, among which are relationship between humanity and nature, flying machines, and war. It is based on a much longer, more complex manga written and drawn by Miyazaki.

Nausicaa takes place a thousand years after human war has poisoned the soil of earth to such a degree that poisoned jungles grew up, insects became gargantuan and huge protectors of nature were created-- Ohms.  There are a number of human kingdoms, but the film deals with only three, Tolmekia-- a war-like kingdom that wants to rule the others; Pejite, the sworn enemies of Tolmekia; and the Valley of the Wind, a struggling utopia that gets caught up in the other kingdom's war.  

Nausicaa herself is Miyazaki's saint-- the ultimate peacemaker.  She is frankly an ideal Buddhist saint, who communes with all creatures, and seeks to make peace with all.  She is especially focused on creating harmony between humanity and nature, trying to heal the 1000 year old rift.  Throughout that thousand years, the poisoned jungles and humanity have been warring with each other, each attempting to overthrow the other's rule.  Only Nausicaa realizes that humanity would perish without the jungle and that the jungle can flourish under humanity's enlightened guidance.  Nausicaa is somehow able to understand the true nature of whatever she is facing.  Instead of reacting to a threat, she responds to the fear behind the threat.  Instead of seeing the death of the toxic jungle, she sees the beauty of it.  She works with the nature of whatever is before her in order to create harmony with all creatures.

On the surface, this film seems weaker than other Miyazaki.  Most Miyazaki are amazing in the detail of the world that was created for the film, and Nausicaa is no different in that.  But the dialog is less rich and entertaining, the colors seem washed, and the style of animation is not as fluid as other Miyazaki films.  Part of this, though not all, is due, I think because Miyazaki is trying to communicate the bleakness of the world in disharmony with nature.  War-- both human and natural-- has taken its toll, draining life from everything.  At the end of the film, after Nausicaa's messiahship is realized, the colors suddenly are brighter and everything changes.  

Despite it's weaknesses (including a truly lame 80s score), this film is one of my favorites of all time.  Despite it's bleakness, it is possibly the most joyful and optimistic of Miyazaki's films, and it plots out the general outline of hope for the future.  Other Miyazaki films may communicate that war is bad and that bad guys aren't really all that bad, but this film actually lays out what would need to be done to end war, to change people's hearts.  It isn't childish in any way, nor simplistic, if perhaps naive.  It communicates that self sacrifice, listening to the another's heart, boldness for another's good and some basic reasoning can create a path out of the bleak world.

Perhaps I like this film because it is very much a religious philosophy I agree with.  Perhaps it is because Nausicaa is such a strong character that to me she is the perfect moral hero.  But with each time I watch it, the higher my estimation of it is.

5/5


« Last Edit: November 25, 2009, 04:07:10 AM by saltine »
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

1SO

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The Cat Returns is okay, but I wish more people would take a chance on Pom Poko, which is from Isao Takahata, the director of Grave of the Fireflies.


It's every bit as good and shares some of Miyazaki's major themes, but people can't stop snickering long enough to watch it.
 
(They snicker because the creatures have magic testicles.)
« Last Edit: November 25, 2009, 02:54:15 AM by 1SO »
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oldkid

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The Cat Returns is okay, but I wish more people would take a chance on Pom Poko, which is from Isao Takahata, the director of Grave of the Fireflies.  It's every bit as good and shares some of Miyazaki's major themes, but people can't stop snickering long enough to watch it.
 
(They snicker because the creatures have magic testicles.)

My kids saw it, and thought it was okay, but not great.  I haven't gotten around to it, but I will watch it eventually.  The Cat Returns may not be top notch Miyazaki, but it's still a fun watch.  Well, we'll see what I say when I watch it again later this week.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

1SO

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And before someone else corrects us, Cat Returns is from Studio Ghibli, but was directed my Hiroyuki Morita not Miyazaki.
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oldkid

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And before someone else corrects us, Cat Returns is from Studio Ghibli, but was directed my Hiroyuki Morita not Miyazaki.

 :-[

It was produced by Miyazaki and the original concept was his, but I guess it isn't really his.
Maybe I'll have to take it off the list?  Maybe we can watch Spirited Away after all!   ;D

"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Gobman

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Nausicaa is my absolute favourite Miyazaki, although I've only seen it once as opposed to the multiple times for Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke it managed to leave a stronger impression. I'm always in support of anyone watching it, it sounds like a great marathon you've got going on and I must say I've always admired the idea of thanksgiving, though I can't get the specific sentiment behind it, giving thanks is always a pretty good thing, and a public holiday a month before christmas, just as it's starting to get hot (at least in this hemisphere) sounds like a bloody good idea.

FLYmeatwad

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Nice to see Porco Rosso on that list, it's Miyazaki's best film.

Melvil

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Love this thread already. Nausicaa is brilliant (and you take that back about the score! :D).

Have you seen all of the movies in the marathon before, Steve?

1SO

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Love this thread already. Nausicaa is brilliant (and you take that back about the score! :D).
Sadly the 80's techno score sounds like video game music and is my biggest problem with the film as well.
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