Thursday, February 19, 2015

Movie with Abe: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

© 2013 Hatake Jimusho – GNDHDDTK

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Directed by Isao Takahata
Released October 17, 2014

In recent years, the Oscar category for Best Animated Feature has demonstrated considerable diversity, no longer content just to recognize successful American productions that also did well at the box office. While that has meant some surprise snubs for some major movies that still deserved a spot, it has allowed for smaller international films to gain recognition and exposure to a worldwide audience. One such film, out on DVD this week, is “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” a charming epic about a young Japanese girl for whom everyone has impossibly big dreams.

The film’s title character first appears as a baby wrapped inside a glowing bamboo shoot, found by the man who will become her adoptive father and taken in as his daughter, even though he and his wife suspect that she is not really theirs to keep. He nicknames her “Princess,” and she quickly earns the moniker “Little Bamboo” due to her tendency to grow at a rapid rate and to learn things at a quicker speed than anyone else possibly could. Since she is thought of as a princess, she cannot avoid that fate, prepared and trained for a royal future.

Being separate from everyone and practicing rituals according to some preordained rules is not something that comes easily to Princess Kaguya. This is not a grand story of a young girl with no parents becoming a royal personality and loving the attention only to eventually realize that she may be lonelier than she thought. The Princess’ loneliness persists, and there is a sense throughout the film that she does not belong in her current state, destined to be returned to whatever supernatural state from which she came. This is a far from a film for all ages since it deals with complex emotions and a underlying sense of things as they are inevitably coming to an end.

This film was originally slated to be released with last year’s Oscar nominee “The Wind Rises,” and the pairing is fitting. This too is a gorgeous extended take on Japanese culture, the outdoors, beauty, and much more. The score by acclaimed composer Joe Hishaishi enhances the film’s feel and effectiveness considerably, adding to the weight and impact of its events. The English voice cast, led by Chloe Grace Moretz, Mary Steenburgen, and James Caan is very strong. This 137-minute experience is one example of what animated films are today, and it’s an enormously compelling one.


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