Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The kingdom of dreams and madness

I went along to the Watershed yesterday evening to see this fascinating documentary (by Mami Sunada) about Studio Ghibli. Although I’d only come across Studio Ghibli fairly recently (yes, I know… I really DO need to keep up), I’d been familiar with their graphic images for some time – without actually knowing anything about their source. Studio Ghibli – just in case you didn’t know – has made several iconic animation films over the past 30 years or so (eg. “Spirited Away”, “My Neighbour Totoro” and “Porco Rosso”). This is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their Tokyo studio. It might sound like a strange subject for a feature film (rather than a TV documentary), but I found it absolutely compelling and really rather inspiring. I thought 72 year-old Miyazaki came across as a particularly interesting character – charismatic, impish, melancholic, creative, entertaining – working six days a week, 10 hours a day (he’s involved in river clearance on the seventh day!). Wonderful to watch him (and other members of his team) actually DRAWING images and storyboards. I loved that Miyazaki spent time, EVERY day, on the studio’s roof garden – and encouraged other staff to do the same – just looking at the SAME views but SEEING changes, different skies, nature, different seasons, roofscapes, people moving etc etc.  
Miyazaki announced his retirement earlier in 2014 and, as a result (in August 2014), the studio has temporarily halted other film production pending restructuring.
It might only appeal to a minority audience, but it’s an absolutely captivating and encouraging film.
Photo (left to right): Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli director), Toshio Suzuki (producer and former Studio Ghibli president) and Isao Takahata (Studio Ghibli director).

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