Starring: Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto, Atsuko Takahata, Tomoko Tabata
Directed By: Isao Takahata
Written By: Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 17 min
Based on the 10th century Japanese folktale called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Princess Kaguya, is a stunning piece of work. Delivering beautifully crafted characters and animation, and exquisitely painted watercolor backdrops. Like the pages of a beloved children’s book magically brought to life as the animators it seems, have poured their hearts and souls into the ink and paint that brought this film to life.
It was a true pleasure to watch an animated film of this caliber, and I would enthusiastically include it in any discussion about Spirited Away, The Wind Rises, Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty. Though – and this is my only complaint – I did find the over two-hour running time a bit excessive. The film quickly establishes its themes, and then unfortunately labors on them during the 2nd act.
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya is another great example of why animation isn’t just for kids. This film expertly communicates complex emotional conflicts between its beautifully drawn lead characters. While never forgetting to entertain, and use a rich palette of colors and animation styles to properly do this ancient story justice.
This movie is a testament to the power of hand-drawn cartoons, in that it requires the audience to unwittingly participate. Like the difference between a good book, and the movie adaptation, you’re not given all the visual information in each frame. When Princess Kaguya runs away from home, all we really see are blurred fast-moving rough sketches of her white and red clothes, contrasting with the thickly drawn dark lines of the field around her. But the way it’s drawn, and the speed it moves, tells us a lot about her emotion state. We automatically fill in the blanks, and in doing so, connect with the story even more. That simple stroke of the pen can ignite an audience’s imagination, and director Isao Takahata and his team exploit this perfectly to deliver a truly moving and beautiful film.
If you’re a fan a great animated films like Spirited Away and The Secret World of Arrietty, then I think you’ll appreciate this too. It did run a little long for my taste, but the finale more than made up for the slightly bloated 2nd act in the film.
If this were playing in a theater, I would encourage you to catch that show. At home a HD screening on a TV is your next best option. I don’t recommend you watch this on a laptop, Tablet or phone. A beautiful piece of artwork like this needs a nice big canvas.
During Princess Kaguya naming banquet, she overhears a group of drunk men trying to talk her father into letting them see her – which is strictly against protocol. As she listens, she gets upset, and runs away.