Princess Kaguya is not another eco-wake-up-call disguised as a film. It’s infinitely more.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a punch in the gut epic about the human race’s struggle for survival on a planet that barely supports life. But I’d much prefer a tale about our species yearning to reconnect with a nature that is ready and willing to assist us.
Where “The inconvenient Truth’s” statistical sensibility made me realize the urgency of our ability as humans to be “proactive” about our planet. Mad Max gave me goosebumps with how fetishized our culture has become. Princess Kaguya goes straight to the heart of the matter, through the best way to make an impact. Through our heart. This may be a retelling of a thousand-year-old Japanese folktale, but director Isao Takahata has brought it to life in a way that feels full of freshness.
The film contains many landmarks that are recognizably Ghibli. A young, curious, courageous female protagonist, who as the film develops is more complex than she is cute. I’m a bit bias when it comes to animation (having studied 2D traditional animation,) but the visuals of Princess Kaguya are stunning. Hand painted backgrounds are typical for Ghibli, but every scene here is masterfully subtle. The colored pencil outlines are also a welcome touch. And the colors are sheer genius.
When it comes to the audio, I always prefer subtitles and original voices, over any kind of dubbing. But here I was pleasantly surprised by the top notch voice casting of the dubbed version (especially Kaguya played by Chloë Grace Moretz.)
Conclusion: Princess Kaguya is a landmark of animation that reshapes notions of what’s important in life. It’s the most emotionally rich film I’ve seen in years, and with today’s epic-technology-laden-films it stands out like a bamboo shoot in winter. Sure we can create dystopian worlds, sexy complicated tech, crazy levels of gore, or even recreate a long-extinct species. But after the wow-factor has worn it’s welcome, I emerge from the experience asking, what’s the point? It’s the stories we connect with that we’ll cherish, we’ll remember, and will enrich our lives.
Princess Kaguya is a masterpiece of visual storytelling that I’ll be thinking about, dreaming about, and re-watching with friends, children, and my children soon. Life ebbs and flows, and the stories we remember are the one’s that bring us together. So next time I find myself gazing at mother moon. I’ll thank her for bringing light to our nights, and solace to our fruitful days.
“Be present, stay still, and keep open.”
© Morehead Media, 2015.