Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Adapted by the same man, Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote the original manga from which it is based, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was the original success that gave birth to Studio Ghibli. The film also set many precedents for future Miyazaki pictures: a brave heroine, flying technology, and an environmental theme. In some ways, the movie is comparable to the future Ghibli film Princess Mononoke, which is also notable for it's green Aesop. However, Nausicaä pails in comparison to it's predecessor.

Princess Mononoke

When it comes to having a green Aesop, many films fail to properly present it without coming off as heavy-handed, and, or, over-simply portraying it. This is evident in films such as FernGully and, more recently, Avatar. However, these are masterfully avoided in Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Princess Mononoke, the greatest environmental film I have ever seen. 

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Long gone were the days where Godzilla and his rampage of utter destruction acted as an allegory for the hazards and repercussions of nuclear warfare. As Toho’s series became more and more popular, the King of Monster slowly found himself becoming tamer, even heroic, so as to appeal to a wider audience – specifically children. This is evidently the case in Toho’s fifth installment in the Godzilla series: Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Battle Royale

Based off of a novel written by Koushun Takami in 1996 (and published in ’99), both the film and it’s source material, Battle Royale, were met with controversy and critical acclaim due to its portrayal of teenagers massacring one another (in quite gruesome and gratuitous ways). Despite this, the praise overwhelmed the criticism, and in 2000 the book was adapted and directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who was inspired to do so due to his own personal experiences. 

Les Misérables

Les Misérables was promoted to be a game changer in the musical genre of film. For the first time ever, the actors portraying the characters would be both acting and singing simultaneously, truly imitating the stage musical from which the film is adapted (not to be confused with the original Victor Hugo novel). I was instantly enticed by this, as well as by the other promotional material, and I disregarded any potential flaws with this method, however obvious they may have been. I dreamed a dream, but alas I was in for a rude awakening.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away is without a doubt one of the best animated features ever created, and arguably one of the most magical tales in the world of cinema to ever have been birthed. And its creator is none other than Studio Ghibli’s mastermind, Hayao Miyazaki. Created for and inspired by five young girls who were friends of his family, Miyazaki sought to make a film that would portray a young heroine that they could look up to, and tell an amazing story whilst doing so. Miyazaki’s efforts are evident, as the film is deemed by many his magnum opus, and for good reason.