SUNDAY SCREENINGS AT THE CHAZEN: CASTLES IN THE SKY: MIYAZAKI, TAKAHATA, AND THE MASTERS OF STUDIO GHIBLI
For nearly 30 years the Japanese Animation Studio Ghibli, founded by Hayao Miyazaki, has produced some of the world's most popular and critically acclaimed animated features, praised for combining dazzling visual artistry with sophisticated and emotionally resonant stories, and concern for social and environmental issues. This 14 film retrospective features not only beloved audience hits like Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the Oscar®-winning Spirited Away, but also rarely seen titles like Only Yesterday (directed by Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata) and Tomomi Mochizuki’s Ocean Waves, which have, until now, never been released in North America. 10 of the newly-struck 35mm prints will be shown in the original Japanese with English subtitles, while the remaining four will be screened in excellent English language versions. All screenings take place at the Chazen Museum of Art. This series supported in part by a grant from Japan Foundation New York. Additional support from the Center for East Asian Studies.
- Sun., Jan. 27 | 2:00 PMChazen
In the delightful, frequently awe-inspiring film that won Studio Ghibli the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, a 10-year-old girl on vacation with her parents is transported to a land of spirits. While she searches for a way to return to her mother and father, our young heroine finds work in a fabulous bathhouse for the various witches and magical creatures that populate the story’s dreamworld. The superb English-language version will be shown.
- Sun., Feb. 3 | 2:00 PMChazen
Set in a future world decimated by atmospheric poisons, gigantic insects and war, Nausicaä’s eponymous princess must use her skills as both soldier and scientist in an effort to reconcile humanity with nature. One of the best science-fiction films of the 1980s, Nausicaä’s critical and commercial success in Japan eventually led to the formation of Studio Ghibli. The film also marks the first of Miyazaki’s many superb collaborations with composer Joe Hishaisi. (KK)
- Sun., Feb. 10 | 2:00 PMChazen
Miner Pazu joins forces with the mysterious Sheeta to find the lost island of Laputa. Seeking hidden treasure, they are accompanied by an amusing band of air pirates and doggedly pursued by greedy government agents. Drawing inspiration from Jonathan Swift, European aeronautical and weaponry design, and a number of other sources, Miyazaki has crafted a jaw-dropping visual feast and a ripping tale of adventure.
- Sun., Feb. 17 | 2:00 PMChazen
Although considered by many to be Studio Ghibil co-founder Takahata's best work, Only Yesterday took twenty years to be released in the U.S. Takahata dares to use Studio Ghibli’s color and technique not to depict fantasy, science fiction, or war, but to show the infinite value of an ordinary contemporary life, that of 27 year old Tokyo office worker Taeko. Flashing back and forth between Taeko’s youth in 1966 (the start of Japan’s economic boom) and her adult life in 1982, Only Yesterday delicately captures many aspects of Japanese life both past and present. It gives a rich and quiet voice to Taeko who confronts the ghosts of her childhood on her way to visit a rural haven that she can call home. (KK)
- Sun., Feb. 24 | 2:00 PMChazen
When their mother is hospitalized, two young sisters retreat with their father to the countryside. The new environment introduces the girls to the wonders of nature but also three furry spirits of the forest who can only be seen by the children. Deeply personal and imbued with the magic of childhood discovery, this much-loved Studio Ghibli classic will be shown in the excellent English-language version, featuring the voices of Dakota and Elle Fanning.
- Sun., Mar. 3 | 2:00 PMChazen
After witnessing a traumatic battle during WWI, an Italian pilot is transformed into a creature that is part pig/part human. Undaunted by his new appearance, Porco becomes an ace bounty hunter of air pirates, while still finding time to romance the (human) ladies. “Porco Rosso was initially conceived as a short film for Japan Airlines, and its roots show in its delight with aviation and the experience of flight.” (Tasha Robinson, The Onion AV Club)
- Sun., Mar. 10 | 2:00 PMChazen
When the development of a new Tokyo suburb threatens the already diminishing habitat of the tanukis -- raccoon-like animals from Japanese folklore -- the magical but mischievous creatures transform themselves into humans and begin a “spooking war.” Look out for Totoro, Kiki and Porco Rosso shortly before the spectacular night-time spirit parade, with thousands of ghosts, dragons and other magical creatures descending on the city. (KK)
- Sun., Mar. 17 | 2:00 PMChazen
Young witch-in-training Kiki flies her broomstick to a new town to complete her studies in magic. Away from her family, Kiki finds support from a family of bakers and her loyal cat, Jiji. Gentle, sweet-natured and beautifully rendered, Miyazaki’s fantasy is perfect entertainment for youngsters and grown-ups alike. This excellent English-language version features the voice of Kirsten Dunst as the titular heroine and a particularly memorable performance by the late Phil Hartman as Jiji.
- Sun., Mar. 24 | 2:00 PMChazen
Ninth-grader Shizuku spends her last summer vacation before high school reading and working on translating a sentimental John Denver song (“Take Me Home, Country Roads”) into Japanese. Through a series of curious and magical incidents (involving a cat), she meets the like-minded, equally bookish Seiji. As they find themselves pulled in different directions, both teenagers are determined to remain true to their feelings for one another. Full of the promise of youth, the film is a bittersweet memorial for Miyazaki’s protégé Yoshifumi Kondō who died at 47. Whisper of the Heart was his only full length feature film. (KK)
- Sun., Apr. 7 | 2:00 PMChazen
Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo who wants only one thing, to go back. Adapted from Saeko Himuro’s best-selling novel, this bittersweet coming of age story features strong attention to detail and a striking use of perspective. The first Studio Ghibli feature produced exclusively for Japanese television, it has not been made available on DVD in the U.S. (KK)
- Sun., Apr. 21 | 2:00 PMChazen
In one of the most popular films ever released in Japan, a prince searches for a cure to the lethal curse placed on him. On his journey he finds himself in the middle of a war between a mining town and the animals living in a nearby forest whose protector is a girl raised by wolves. Ecologically-conscious and epic in presentation, Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli’s signature efforts.
- Sun., Apr. 28 | 2:00 PMChazen
Takahata’s cheery adaptation of a popular newspaper manga by Hisaichi Ishii represents a dramatic break from the frequently mythical storytelling of Studio Ghibli. In order to stay true to the manga, the director uses a seductive minimalist aesthetic in portraying the life and misadventures of the disorganized Yamada family. Takahata brings these charming failures to life by leaving the majority of the frame empty, sometimes presenting only etchings or sketches, filled with soft colors that evoke watercolor painting. Ghibli’s first entirely computer-generated feature still manages to magically capture the aura and feeling of a childhood memory. (KK)
- Sun., May. 5 | 2:00 PMChazen
Haru, a bored teenager, is whisked away to a magical cat kingdom where the king plans to turn our heroine into a feline and marry her off to the prince! Accompanied by cat friends like the fat, cranky Muta and the dashing Baron from Whisper of the Heart, Haru must find a way to stop her transformation...and she’s already sprouted whiskers and a tail! (KK)
- Sun., May. 12 | 2:00 PMChazen
A teenaged milliner is cursed by a witch and transformed into an old woman. She is then sent to work as a housekeeper in the huge walking castle belonging to young magician Howl, who holds the key to breaking the hatmaker’s spell. Miyazaki’s follow-up to Spirited Away, an adaptation of a British novel by Diana Wynne Jones, delivers an equally compelling story set in a dazzling visual universe. The English language version, featuring the voices of Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, and Emily Mortimer, will be shown.