Saturday, August 22, 2009


Last night, after a tasty take-out Chinese dinner, we headed out to a local arthouse theater to see Ponyo, Miyazaki's latest film. I've found nothing else to be quite like a Miyazaki movie, and Ponyo only reinforced that belief.

The differences start with the look. The animation here, which Miyazaki's team did by hand, shows its pencil origins with soft, gentle colors, particularly in the landscapes and seascapes. It was lovely and yet childlike, as if a gifted youngster had drawn the images--and in many ways, Miyazaki, though in his late sixties, is that talented child. It is perhaps his greatest gift to be so in touch with and able to tap the child within him.

The differences continue with the shape of his stories, which almost always follow child logic, not traditional plot structures. Children (quite properly, I believe) typically live in very limited worlds in which people outside their immediate spheres are distant, almost meaningless entities and secondary effects rarely enter their consciousnesses. (Reading my own words, perhaps I'm describing America instead. Ah, well; that's another essay.) So, the fact that a key character, Ponyo's mother, doesn't really enter the movie until the end, or that the giant waves that are destroying villages really don't seem to kill anyone, simply end up not mattering to the story. The tale is guileless and simple, with children whose intentions are pure and clean.

If your goal is to watch an animated adult film, Ponyo is definitely not for you. If, however, you're in the mood to ditch your grown-up sensibilities for a couple of hours and to see the world and all its wonder and magic again as a child, then make sure to catch this one.

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