The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Directed by Isao Takahata
Written by Isao Takahata & Riko Sakaguchi Based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is an epic fable about a bamboo cutter and his wife who raise a magical child that they find in the bamboo. It is a very interesting story full of romance and tradition. The animation style is rough and with the narration it almost seems like listening to a book of an ancient fable with beautiful flowing illustrations. It is a wonderful tale. And I will admit that I shed a tear more than once. But it is a little long. Princess Kaguya is a long and spiraling tale. Maybe a little too complicated at times. But since it did elicit the desired emotional response, I have to say I liked it.
I can’t think of a Studio Ghibli film that I didn’t like. When Hayao Miyazaki was running the studio they would put out masterpiece after masterpiece. And now that he’s retired, it’s hard for me to say that I don’t think the quality has dropped. Because I do. But the bar was set astronomically high in the first place by the great master himself.
There are many themes in the movie. Friendship, tradition and honor. The differences between the classes. The amount of freedom that money and title gives one vs the freedom in not being bound by duty and marriage. There is love. Love of the unattainable and love of the fantasy created in the mind. There is family. A father’s wanting of what he thinks is best for his daughter vs what she wants, or her mother.
And there is religion. Because the freedom of the lower classes vs the aristocracy is one thing but the total uncompromising lack of freedom of the gods, well that is another. This movie goes there and it is a beautiful trip.
The only bad thing I can say about The Tale of Princess Kaguya is that it feels long. It truly is an epic journey to the moon and back. But strangely while I think The Tale of Princess Kaguya may have felt long, I still wouldn’t edit a thing. Not a frame.
This is the part where I compare it to The Lego Movie. If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you may have noticed a theme. These last few reviews I’ve caught up on the Oscar nominees and wondered aloud how The Lego Movie could have been snubbed. Well I can’t compare Princess Kaguya to The Lego Movie. That would be like comparing apples and oranges. Wait. Hold on. That’s entirely possible. You can totally compare an apple to an orange. What the hell does that even mean? I think The Lego Movie was better than Princess Kaguya. There I said it. And yes Kaguya is more sophisticated and foreign and serious and all that stuff. And yes both deserve to be nominated for best animated feature. But only one of them was. And don’t tell me to let it go. I will let it go when the Academy admits their mistake and apologizes to The Lego Movie. Not to the film-makers but to the film itself. I’ll let it go when they pull out a copy of the movie on DVD or BluRay and they apologize directly to it.
But anyway, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is very deep, very spiritual and very long but also very very good.