Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.
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An old man makes a living by selling bamboo. One day, he finds a princess in a bamboo. The princess is only the size of a finger. Her name is Kaguya. When Kaguya grows up, 5 men from prestigious families propose to her. Kaguya asks the men to find memorable marriage gifts for her, but the 5 men are unable to find what Kaguya wants. Then, the Emperor of Japan proposes to her.Written by
(At around thirty-eight minutes) The scroll which Lady Sagami unrolls for Princess Kaguya, is based on actual scrolls. In 1999, Takahata published a book comparing these twelfth century picture scrolls to cinematic animation. See more »
While the baby princess crawls to the cutter she tosses a piece of bamboo to the edge of the floor mat. In the reverse shot as she crawls back, it is missing. See more »
The Princess Kaguya:
Go round, come round, come round... come round, oh distant time. Come round, call back my heart. Come round, call back my heart. Birds, bugs, beasts, grass, trees, flowers. Teach me how to feel. If i hear that you pine for me, i will return to you.
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The animation masterpiece of the decade. Takahata is going out on top. The fabled north American distribution deal between Disney and Studio Ghibli (apparently) applies only to the works of Myazaki; north American distribution of this is being handled by GKIDS. So the heavyweight marketing of Pixar/Disney isn't behind it. But don't be fooled by its "art-house" distribution or its relative obscurity - this is a really big deal.
It's an "epic", having taken eight years to produce and clocking in at well over two hours. I haven't seen the words "production committee" in credits since 'Akira' - that means it was too big for any one normal producer, so several companies had to form a "consortium": Studio Ghibli itself, a TV network, a foreign corporation, a movie studio, and three others. And the animation work itself was so large that parts of it were farmed out to _nine_ other studios.
There are two versions: an English dub of the soundtrack with most things written in English characters (although in general dubs suck, animation is often an exception); and a Japanese soundtrack with written English subtitles and most things (including virtually all the credits) written in Japanese characters. If the names of the voice actors you hear sound vaguely familiar, that's the English dub version. In fact, if you're viewing this in a theater, unless the theater is pretty sophisticated, you won't even have a choice - you'll see only the English dub version. And that's okay.
You get what you're used to from Studio Ghibli: powerful and independent women characters, a strong bond with the natural world, seamless switches back and forth between reality and fantasy, rootedness in tradition and folklore, and the music of Joe Hisaishi. Add to that some themes I associate specifically with Takahata: portrayals of "reality" even when it's quite sad, nostalgia, an acceptance and open portrayal of the concept of the "cycle of life", and ambivalence toward tradition and especially patriarchy (respecting and illustrating the good, while at the same time poking fun at the bad). Finally add a new twist I haven't seen in animation before: whole scenes where all the dialog, the visuals, and even the music, point to one interpretation ...only to recast the whole thing in a different light at the end to reach a totally unexpected conclusion.
The animation is 2D and very intricate, but still appears hand-drawn. Outlines vary in thickness and density, and colored areas don't always reach exactly to an outline. It could be computer-drawn (as many apparently hand-drawn animations actually are these days) only if the computer made an awful lot of "mistakes". Interestingly, the figures and the backgrounds look exactly the same (not different styles of animation as is often the case). It's all colored with pastels. The end result looks somewhat as though 'My Neighbors the Yamadas' had been used as starting sketches which were then finished.
I thought my evaluation of "hand drawn" was vindicated when a whole screenful of the end credits was occupied with the names of all the in-betweeners. But then just a bit later the whole screen was again filled with one category of names, this time all the digital ink and painters. Sometimes what you'd expect to be computer-generated is in fact clearly hand drawn, as when shadows move just a bit awkwardly between the beginning and the end of a scene. Other times the effect really seems computer-generated, as when a character is seen in a side closeup crashing through vegetation with lots and lots of branches flying much faster than anyone could draw them, or as when there's a cross-fade between scenes. I could never even guess though how it had been done when occasionally I could see what was behind a bit of translucent cloth.
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