Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki: The Wrap-Up

Well, we've come to the end of my August odyssey of watching every Hayao Miyazaki film. Before we go, I just wanted to take a minute to kind of wrap things up and see what we learned from this.

First up, what we learned is that Miyazaki's films rock. They do. They're good. Watch them.

The Cool Stuff

Strong female protaganists - The lead character in just about every Miyazaki film is a young woman...the coming-of-age of young girl is plot that he has explored many times. And it's not just with the heroine. He stuff his films with strong female sidekicks as well, from Ursula, the barefoot bohemian artist who becomes mentor to Kiki, to Lin, the take-no-crap-from-no-one bathhouse attendant in Spirited Away. I have a feminist friend who won't watch a movie unless it contains at least two female characters who have a meaningful, plot-advancing conversation with each other...Miyazaki's films pass that test easily.

The music of Joe Hisashi - The collaberations between composers and directors can become quite legendary -- Spielberg and Williams, Burton and Elfman -- we can add Miyazaki and Hisashi to that list. The more I watch these films, the more I want the soundtracks for each and every one.

Flight - The highlight of just about every Miyazaki film is a flying sequence...giant flying machines frequently figure into the plots. Sadly, not very many of the DVDs have kick-ass surround sound mixes. Fix that for the eventual Blu-Ray releases, Disney!

Whisper of the Heart poster
More to Come
One possible omission that I feel I have to mention is the 1995 film Whisper of the Heart. It's not on here because, quite frankly, I don't know if it's considered to be a Miyazaki film. It was written by Miyazaki and storyboard by him, but it was directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. Now I know there are examples where when a film is written by one guy and directed by another, it comes to be considered the writer's film, and not the director's. Best examples include Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, but considered a Steven Spielberg film cuz Spielberg wrote it. And let's not forget the Indiana Jones films...considered to be George Lucas films, even though Spielberg directed them.

So until I do more research and determine whether Whisper of the Heart is given similar consideration, it's off the list. Or, until, I find it at a good price in a discount bin and pick it up for the hell of it.

And, as I said last time, Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, only just came out in Japan. It'll probably hit theatres here in North America next year.

What Are We Going to do Tomorrow Night, Brain?
Many years ago, a friend of mine chided me because most of my creative endeavors were of a silly nature, and that I wasn't trying anything serious or introspective. She made her point by quoting Neil Gaiman. I believe the quote was something along the lines that while cake might look good and taste good, it's not really that healthy for you and doesn't fill you up. Her argument was essentially that I shouldn't waste my time making cake.

Well, we just finished all our vegetables, Ma, and it's time for some cake. And pudding. And Jell-O.

There's another Japanese anime franchise where I own every film on DVD. Whereas Miyazaki's films are deep, introspective, and reflective, these ones are mass-produced at the rate of one a year as part of a mass merchandising empire. Each film, indeed, each episode of the TV series that spawned them, have pretty much the same plot. But I do love it anyways because of what (I feel) it represents.

In September, we're going to watch all 10 Pokemon movies.

No comments: