Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

I have very little to say about this one - the audience ate it up, with applause at the end, but I found that it had the feeling of a very long Electronic Press Kit piece - maybe not exactly a puff piece, but mostly meant to please, and anything which highlights its subject's difficulty does so in a way that also emphasizes his brilliance.

It's kind of unfortunate that it's playing alongside Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya rather than Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, because it is much more about Miyazaki's movie than Takahata's, even if it has the end result of making one more curious about "Paku-san" and his movie.

Yume to kyôki no ôkoku (The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 2 January 2014 at the Brattle Theatre (first-run, DCP)

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is sometimes described as "a year in the life of Studio Ghibli", and one which is potentially its last year as an active production house. Many fans will likely be fascinated to watch renowned director Hayao Miyazaki work on his final film, although the documentary will give them more access than insight.

That's especially true for those who are most likely to drawn to Mami Sunada's picture - they already know that Hayao Miyazaki creates painted storyboards for his films rather than a conventional screenplay, or that longtime producer Toshio Suzuki hired Miyazaki to create the manga that eventually became Nausicaä in the Valley of the Wind while editing an animation magazine. They know the ins and outs of creating traditional animation, even if they are sometimes a bit taken aback at just how painstaking it is.

The access is impressive, though - not quite total, but Miyazaki and Suzuki certainly appear to allow Sunada plenty of freedom to look over their shoulders. Miyazaki, in particular, becomes a subject that merits the viewer's attention, charismatic and folksy but often expressing a pessimistic view of the world. It's an intriguing portrait, although one likely to be very much influenced by what the audience brings to it. Does this joviality serve to mask how he can be the sort of genius that can be very difficult to deal with, and is it done deliberately, especially with Sunada always being around?

Full review at EFC.

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