Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Foreign Film Wednesday: My Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie


The Tale of Princess Kaguya. 2013. Directed by Isao Takahata.

My favorite Studio Ghibli movie isn't Howl's Moving Castle or even the very popular Spirited Away. It's the 2013 release The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which isn't even directed by Hayao Miyazaki but by the lesser-known Isao Takahata, whose movies are just as enchanting as Miyazaki's if maybe a little more for grownups. It was nominated for Best Animated Film in 2014.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya tells the story of a being who comes to Earth from the Moon in the form of a little girl whose parents decide her destiny is to be a princess. A woodcutter finds her in a bamboo field as a tiny woman on a leaf; she transforms into a human baby and the woodcutter and his wife raise her. She grows up happily in the forest with other farmers but eventually and much to her dismay the woodcutter decides to raise her to be a royal princess and moves the family to the capital.

The movie is on the long side- 2 hours plus- and touches on adult themes like social class and burgeoning sexuality in ways that I haven't often seen in Ghibli films which I tend to think of as more for children. Princess Kaguya has some darker moments than I'm used to for these movies. It is incredibly beautiful to look at and listen to- the animation is so gorgeous, every panel is like a painting, and Ghibli vet Joe Hisaishi does much of the soundtrack which includes piano, orchestral and koto pieces. The big number at the end, "When I Remember This Life," made me cry before I even learned the English lyrics.

If you haven't seen it I really recommend you check it out. It's just magnificent.

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