HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE
HAURU NO UGOKU SHIRO
2004, Walt Disney Pictures, 119 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

Sophie, an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. After this chance meeting, the young girl is turned into a 90-year-old woman by the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste. Embarking on an incredible adventure to lift the curse, Sophie finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle. As the true power of Howl’s wizardry is revealed, and his relationship with Sophie deepens, our young heroine finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world. HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE was the second Studio Ghibli film to be nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.


PRINCESS MONONOKE
MONONOKE-HIME
1997, Studio Ghibli, 134 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

A landmark of animation and a film of unsurpassed power and beauty, Hayao Miyazaki’s epic story of conflict and balance between humans, gods and nature has been universally acclaimed by critics and broke the box office record on its original release in Japan. While defending his village from a demonic boar-god, the young warrior Ashitaka becomes afflicted with a deadly curse that grants him superhuman power in battle but will eventually take his life. Traveling west to find a cure and meet his destiny, he journeys deep into the sacred depths of the Great Forest where he meets San (Princess Mononoke), a girl raised by wolf-gods. Mononoke is a force of nature, riding bareback on a great white wolf and terrorizing the human outpost of Iron Town on the edge of the Forest.


WHISPER OF THE HEART
MIMI WO SUMASEBA
1995, Studio Ghibli, 111 min, Japan, Dir: Yoshifumi Kondo

In the mid-1990s, the great Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY) wanted to begin mentoring a new generation of animation artists in Japan. The result was WHISPER OF THE HEART, a gentle coming-of-age drama scripted, produced and storyboarded by Miyazaki and then directed by Yoshifumi Kondo (later animation director on PRINCESS MONONOKE), whom Miyazaki hoped would introduce new blood into his Studio Ghibli. Adapted from the manga by Aoi Hiragi, the film tells the story of Shizuku, a shy student with high school entrance exam worries and inchoate aspirations, who meets a magical cat on a commuter bus and follows it to a boutique where significant objects abound, each with a story of its own. Notable for its celebration of the mysteries of daily living, in WHISPER OF THE HEART "Miyazaki's script suggests that a sense of magic can exist, even in everyday Tokyo," according to animation historian Charles Solomon. The story of a young girl finding her voice both literally and figuratively, WHISPER OF THE HEART is a film tinged by tragedy: Yoshifumi Kondo died of a brain aneurysm in 1998. His only feature attests to his talent, and Miyazaki has yet to find an equally gifted protégé.


Syndicate content