Studio Ghibli progress report:
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Grave of the Fireflies
My Neighbour Totoro
Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Porco Rosso
- Pom Poko
- Whisper of the Heart
- My Neighbours the Yamadas
The Cat Returns
Howl’s Moving Castle
Tales from Earthsea
- From Up on Poppy Hill
Tales from Earthsea and Ocean Waves were underwhelming; Earthsea’s story wasn’t my cup of tea, and the animations seemed less polished than I’ve come to expect from Studio Ghibli, and Ocean Waves just didn’t have a great story. I don’t know, it reminded me somewhat of Norwegian Wood, minus the characters and setting that made the book (and film adaptation compelling.
Only Yesterday was the surprise delight out of the ones I’ve watched lately, and would certainly be one of my favourite Ghibli films if I had to order them. The mixture of the art styles was fantastic, the story mature, and having a middle-aged woman as the main character was a breath of fresh air. Isao Takahata is a fantastic director, and I find myself more interested in the prospect of his upcoming film than for Miyazaki’s.
Nausicaä was fantastically animated, and generally a joy to watch. While not technically a Ghibli film, it exhibited everything I love from the studio’s films. The story is a bit preachy, and the music a bit out of place sometimes, but overall it was a fantastic film.
Oh, and they pronounce Nausicaä incorrectly.
All the hair cuts I’ve had over the years:
- Medium length, vague quiff.
- Slightly shorter, vague quiff.
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
So I got around to watching the film adaptation of Norwegian Wood. It’s not as good as the original book, in my opinion, which is odd considering I only read the book because I liked the look of the film trailer (and buying a book on my Kindle is faster than getting a film sent through LoveFilm).
Let’s start with the positives: the visuals are, in places, spectacular. Lots of scenes with spectacular lighting, fantastic framing, and ambitious shots. The shot of Hatsumi I’ve picked out above (it’s the only shot with a single person) was particularly great.
As soon as the film was over, I went back to try to work out what was so great with that scene. 52 seconds of Hatsumi, 24 of Wanatabe. 15 seconds of Hatsumi, 7 of Wanatabe. 24 seconds of Hatsumi, 5 of Wanatabe. 11 seconds of Hatsumi, 2 of Wanatabe. Finally, 107 seconds of Hatsumi, before her leaving the frame, the shot then panning past Nagasawa (seen for the first time) back onto Wanatabe. Most of the time Hatsumi spent on the screen she’s not talking; instead Wanatabe is, and we’re seeing her reactions. Seriously, seriously good cinema, there.
The acting, especially from the actresses playing Midori and Hatsumi, is fantastic. Despite getting too little screen time to properly demonstrate their characters and mindsets over the course of the story, they both do a fantastic job.
The music was also great. Jonny Greenwood, apparently so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
However, the film was pretty much a disappointment. The usual problems of film adaptations of books applies here: too much has to be taken out to fit the story into a single (2h13m) movie. The characters aren’t fleshed out half as much as they need to be to make you care, and can only show single facets of personalities. The reasons behind why each character feels and acts the way they do aren’t explained; some of the reasoning behind Naoko’s depression, behind Midori’s choice to hide her father, and behind Reiko existing aren’t explored, or even really glossed over.
I’d recommend to book to anyone who’s fine with depressing stories. It’s a great read, and I’m hard to please when it comes to books. But the film? I could only really recommend that to major fans of the book, or people who really like some good camera work.