Saturday, November 23, 2013

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 11

Lost Cities Above the Clouds

   One tiny side note I must mention, this movie came to theaters on my birthday...a yeah before I was born, that is. Anecdotes aside, this week we travel to Hayao Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky. While Miyazaki both wrote and directed, Isao Takahata (1935-) produced the film. He is also the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Another familiar crew member, Joe Hisaishi, returns as composer, bringing to life the grand sense of flight and fancy within this film. This 1986 feature was the first film produced and released under the banner of Studio Ghibli. However, with so many grand successes following, this film often gets outshined and at one of the longest running times (its over 2 hours), that's unfortunate. Many of the elements of the story and setting are inspired by Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. I personally found that ironic, as Gulliver's Travels is a personal favorite of mine, while Castle In The Sky is not high on my list. Through no fault of its own; mind you it's still a Miyazaki film. Thus, its still got a lot in its corner.

   For me personally I see this film as a great tribute to architecture and all the lost cities of literature. From Atlantis to Pompeii, this film gathers a bit of each stories adventure and mystical nature. This film has scale. The environments are vast; showcasing an expansive variety of locations as well. From a Victorian era themed pirate ship to a long-lost technologically advanced society that defied gravity itself, this film has it covered. Aaaaaaaand that's where my high praise begins its slippery slope. While I do admire the film's creativity, it all feels rather...borrowed. Its still original to be sure, however it does not surpass the sum of its parts. The characters are mostly passive, which seems ironic as everyone is always doing something. I wish there were more than a couple quiet moments in this film. The story is very linear. While that's not uncommon in many films, it just feels so blase here. As I stated before, this film's strong point is its nod to era specific architecture. It looks stunning. The structural layout and design of city spaces both on earth and in sky are dynamic and detailed. It definitely keep you wanting to explore the visuals throughout the film's progression. The final 20 minutes of the film are satisfying to the utopian fantasy sci-fi fan in all of us. There are many beautifully animated moments I enjoy throughout this film, and the score compliments them quite nicely. As for which cast to view it with, either is honestly fine. The story is simple, the settings are vast, the characters are a tad bland but still capable of charm and warmth. Sometimes the movie feels too long for its story, other times I feel it should have been a miniseries to properly express itself. Despite all my rantings, Castle In The Sky is still an entertaining adventure flick even with its long running time. May each lost traveler find their own point of interest in this tale above the clouds. Enjoy!
From The Ashes, V.~

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