Coming to theatres this Friday from director/writer Isao Takahata AND Studio Ghibli comes The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
This animated film tells the story of the Bamboo Cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen) who live in a little cottage on the mountain. One day the Bamboo Cutter sees a glowing piece of bamboo and discovers a tiny girl!
Taking her home to his wife, the girl turns into a baby who grows very fast! As a young girl, the Princess (Chloe Grace Moretz) is loved by everyone she meets. The Bamboo Cutter believes that she is destined to be lady and moves the family to the capitol so she may begin learning the ways of a lady.
Princess is devastated that she must leave her friends, especially Sutemaru (Darren Criss). She has no time to grieve as Lady Sagami (Lucy Liu) begins her work teaching Princess music, art, literature and customs. After the naming ceremony, she is now called Princess Kaguya and the suitor’s line up.
Five noblemen and even the Emperor are enthralled with Princess Kaguya but she knows that her happiness is not to be found on this earth. The time will come when she must return to where she was sent from.
FINAL WORD: Caan and Steenburgen (who narrates) give their couple characters such charm. Wanting what’s best for their daughter, it is Caan who has big dreams for his little girl.
Moretz as the Princess has the right demeanor and voice for the role. Watching the Princess grow from such a happy child to a sad adult was really heart wrenching. Trying to be free from her marital fate with the nobleman and Emperor, it awakens in her the true fate awaiting her.
Other cast include Beau Bridges as prince Kuramochi, James Marsden as Prince Ishitsukuri, Oliver Platt as Lord Minister of the Right Abe, Dean Cain as The Mikado, Daniel Dae Kim as Great Counselor Otomo, George Segal as Inbe no Akita, John Cho as Middle Counselor Isonokami and Emily Bridges as Kita no Kata.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA four tubs of popcorn out of five. The artistry here is just staggering and beautiful. The flowing movement of the characters and the intense colors add such depth to the story. Taken from a 10th century Japanese folktale, the film has every range of human emotion. There are moments of humor, joy, sadness, friendship and family.
Director Takahata says of the film, “I have no idea, to tell the truth, if a story like this has any of what could be called ‘present-day-ness’. I can at least assert, however, that this animated film will be worth seeing. This is because of the talent and abilities of the staff who have rallied behind it, and the cinematic expression they have achieved. These all clearly indicate a modern-day point of arrival. This is what I most earnestly wish you will see”.
The music of THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA brings such beauty to the ear thanks to composer Joe Hisaishi. He has produced music for other animated films such as PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA in 2008.
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and the films that come from this studio have now become a beloved part of Japanese pop culture. SPIRITED AWAY, which came from Studio Ghibli, won the Academy Award in 2002. This film will definitely be a stand out for this studio and become another beloved animated story for fans.
In the end – it is a princess’ crime and punishment.