Monday, February 24, 2014

Cinema Matters #2: Hayao Miyazaki - His Dreams, Our Memories

February 2014
Cinema Matters #2:  Hayao Miyazaki – His Dreams, Our Memories.
I believe that cinema matters.  This is a continuing series of my personal thoughts on film.  Every month a new topic.  In no more than 750 words.

In 1990, Akira Kurosawa made Dreams, a collection of eight short films based upon his dreams.  It is a fascinating and profound work of art that I urge you to see.  Why I mention Kurosawa’s film here is because Hayao Miyazaki has also made his own "Dreams".  Put together, it would span about 22 hours, but it has taken a lifetime to envision and achieve:

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Castle in the Sky (1986)
My Neighbour Totoro (1998)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Spirited Away (2001)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Ponyo (2008)
The Wind Rises (2013) 

Each one a dream, now a memory. 

I only discovered Miyazaki when I was 17, when a classmate suggested I watch Spirited Away.  After seeing it, I immediately gave it the highest rating possible (A+, 10/10, 5 stars), and it remains to this day my favourite animated feature, and arguably the greatest of all Studio Ghibli works, alongside Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies (1988). 

Some people are fortunate enough to have discovered his works when they were kids.  I envy them and their cool parents.  I believe there are others who have not made the discovery.  I envy them more – well, imagine seeing those films for the first time.  How must that feel?

Now that he has announced his retirement, we are able to look at his entire body of work with a measure of gratitude, and also appreciate the versatility of his craft.  For me, I think he makes three kinds of movies – the epic fantasies like Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away; the “smaller” and more whimsical and fun movies like My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo; and of course the more mature, poetic ones like Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises

Whatever he does, there is always a feeling of consistency, quality-wise.  He is one of a handful of filmmakers in the world who is simply incapable of making a bad movie.



Now that I am 26, I am proud to have seen every Miyazaki feature.  But what makes me happier is to be able to return to his films time and time again.  For some, it is a return to one’s childhood – a time of innocence and carefreeness.  Not for me because Miyazaki has never been part of my childhood, only Disney’s The Lion King (1994) and Pinocchio (1940). 

But I would like to think that Miyazaki’s works are ageless and eternal.  He creates such dreamscapes, such wonder, such warmth that we can hardly forget.  His dreams are indeed our memories.  They are immortalized, but always accessible, always retrievable.  

[For more articles, please visit http://filmnomenon.blogspot.sg/p/articles.html]








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