This past weekend I had the honor of watching The Tale of the Princess Kaguya for the second time through. Directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbors the Yamadas), this is the latest film masterpiece by Studio Ghibli, sans Hayao Miyazaki, due to his recent retirement.
Even without Miyazaki’s name appearing on the credits roll, one cannot help but feel his presence and influence on the making of this film’s pure expressionistic energy, deep layers of emotion and incredible story of conflict, love, and melancholia.
Having taken 8 years to make and just shy of $50 million to produce (source: US Blu-Ray special features disc), the lingering vibrance of this film cannot be ignored. Watching this film is comparable to experiencing a beautiful reoccurring dream unfolding newly before your eyes, seeing a Monet painting come to life, or reading The Little Prince in your favorite chair. It’s that lovely.
The art style is minimalistic and expressive yet flawless in conveying the emotion of the moment. The animation techniques are fast, vigorous, and poignant and always on point. The subtlety of the sounds and stillness of the atmosphere take ahold of your imagination and do not let go.
One may conclude this is not a happy film. However, the journey of the Princess is deeply transformative and memorable. Out of Studio Ghibli’s portfolio, I can say that this is the only other film of theirs that can match the genius of 1997’s Princess Mononoke.
Buy it, watch it, and remember Princess Kaguya.