Monday, October 5, 2009

Movie: Gake no ue no Ponyo (2008)

(Ponyo on the Cliff)

When the best days of Disney were over, the Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki suddenly became a lot more famous in the Western world. But Miyazaki’s studio Ghibli had been cracking out full length cartoon films for years. With his modern animation classics, Miyazaki revolutionized the Anime genre in the West. On forums people often note that they are going to show their future kids Ghibli films instead of the Disney classics because they are so much more magical. And indeed, everything Miyazaki touches becomes gold, culminating in an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away in 2002.

Miyazaki makes hand drawn art look impressive; never shying away from the enormous work of drawing oodles of the same stuff. At the start of Ponyo on the Cliff, for example, there is a scene with hundreds of jellyfish, all drawn separately. And I should also mention the numerous painted backgrounds. He is an artist and a teller of fairytales.

That is what Studio Ghibli is doing. It is creating a resume of new fairytales for the world. The stories of Miyazaki have the power of making adults feel like children. To let us remember that time of magic, awesome discoveries and the surreal logic of a childhood world. The boundary between fantasy and reality is paperthin in Ponyo on the Cliff, and that makes the storyline a bit puzzling now and then, but that is a Miyazaki trademark.

Despite a rushed ending, Ponyo on the Cliff is a work of creative brilliance and a lovely cartoon for children and adults alike.

IMDB: Ponyo on the Cliff

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