Saturday, June 11, 2005

Musings on Miyazaki

Back in 1987, a dubbed version of Hayao Miyazaki's animated feature Castle in the Sky: Laputa played in the LA area as part of an animation festival. The Los Angeles Times assigned animation writer Charles Solomon to write a review. Solomon invariably gave Japanese animation features bad reviews, and this was no exception. Memorably, he slammed the movie's "computer animation" -- even though there was no CGI in the film.

Flash forward to the summer of 2005. Charles Solomon is now an advocate of Japanese animation. His review of Laputa on gushes: "The exciting flying sequences, appealing characters, and fantastic vision of a steam-powered future Jules Verne might have imagined make Castle in the Sky a must-have for fans of Japanese and Western animation." (

Two years ago, Miyazaki won the best animated film oscar for his feature Spirited Away. Now his latest feature, Howl's Moving Castle, is playing at Disney's El Capitan Theatre, Hollywood's magnificent old deco movie house. And the Los Angeles Times assigned its top movie critic, Kenneth Turan, to review the film. The normally-crusty Turan pulls out the stops for this review (,0,3637816.story):

"Parse it any way you like, Miyazaki's gifts as an animator place him in a category of his own. To see his latest film is to be somehow reminded of Italians who could hear Verdi's operas as soon as they were sung or English readers who could experience the novels of Dickens episode by episode.

"Like those fortunate folk, we can have the excitement and joy of seeing new work by one of the greatest animators who ever lived just as soon as he creates it. Future generations will envy us our luck."

The wheel in the sky keeps on turning . . . .

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