May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
March 1, 2010
Steven D. Greydanus (of Decent Films fame) has posted a wonderful overview of Hayao Miyazaki, his films, and their influence on American cinema.
Miyazaki’s American proponents hoped Ponyo would be his breakout film stateside, but mainstream success in America continues to elude him. That is a shame, and our loss.
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most important living filmmakers many readers haven’t heard of. He can easily be called the world’s foremost living director of animation. Even if you haven’t seen any of Miyazaki’s work, you’ve probably experienced his influence on American films.
While his influence is impressive, then, Miyazaki’s vision remains unique. The worlds he creates — the teeming post-apocalyptic jungle world of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the strange 19th-century science fiction of Laputa: Castle in the Sky, the surreal spirit world of Spirited Away — are as singular as they are captivating. There is a haunting quality about Miyazaki’s works; the viewer has the sense of having visited a place with a character as distinct and vibrant as any place in the real world.
Partly this is due to the artist’s painterly style and extraordinary eye for persuasive detail; partly it is the effortless authority with which he blends reality (or realities) and whimsy to create settings that seem copied directly from life, even if the particular architectural, technological and cultural milieus he draws on never coexisted in any one place and time, or in some cases never existed at all.
For all viewers, Miyazaki’s whole body of work (less one or two sub-par exceptions) offers unduplicated vistas of imaginative wonder and beauty, images of startling power, admirable and likable heroines and heroes, humanely conceived supporting characters, elusively engaging storytelling, wholesome moral themes, and unexpected sly humor. He is the sort of artist whose work doesn’t just entertain audiences, but wins enthusiasts. For those who haven’t yet discovered him, Miyazaki is a taste well worth acquiring.
Greydanus pretty much hits on every single reason why I love Hayao Miyazaki’s films, and then some.