The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

Po­etry in an­i­ma­tion

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

Re­lease Date: 13 July

2013 | PG | Dou­ble- play Blu- ray & DVD/ Blu- ray/ DVD Di­rec­tor: Isao Taka­hata Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Dar­ren Criss, Lucy Liu, James Caan, Mary Steen­bur­gen, Ge­orge Se­gal

Form and

mean­ing. Were Pixar to make an an­i­mated ver­sion of 10th cen­tury Ja­panese folk tale Princess Kaguya – aka The Tale Of The Bam­boo Cut­ter – it would, no doubt, be awe­some. Won­der­fully crafted and full of heart. It would also be CG, hy­per­re­al­is­tic and packed with in­cred­i­ble de­tail.

Stu­dio Ghi­bli’s The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya has all the heart, emo­tion and joie de vivre, but it has some­thing else too: a vis­ual po­etry. It achieves this with a few scratchy lines, a pas­tel pal­ette and an aching love of na­ture. This is the Ja­panese wood­cut in mo­tion. It makes the film feel more au­then­tic, more res­o­nant; as if the essence of the tale has been mys­ti­cally im­printed on cel­lu­loid. The form has be­come the mean­ing. Which may sound a lit­tle pre­ten­tious but hon­estly, this film gets you like that.

The tale be­gins with an aged, child­less bam­boo cut­ter and his wife adopt­ing a fast- grow­ing child born from a bam­boo shoot. Be­liev­ing she’s des­tined to be a princess, they use some equally for­tu­itous­ly­dis­cov­ered gold to fund a move to the city and lessons for her to be­come a deco­rous Ja­panese lady. She, though, jus t wants to pla y with mud and have fun with friends. But when pow­er­ful suit­ors learn of her beauty her fate ap­pears sealed.

This is not a film for childr en. It ’s bum- shuf­flingly long, glacially slow- mov­ing and r elies on sto­ry­telling tech­niques that de­mand in­ter­pre­ta­tion. For more ma­ture view­ers, though, it ’s a lyri­cal, af­fect­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that works on an al­most im­pres­sion­is­tic level much of the time. It’s rarely laugh- out- loud funny, but lit­tle touches of wry hu­mour bring the char­ac­ters alive.

The film is even more ef­fec­tive viewed in the orig­i­nal Ja­panese. Even if you nor­mally avoid sub­ti­tles, they’re worth the ef­fort here. It’s all part of the form cre­at­ing the mean­ing, y’see. Ex­tras: Forty min­utes of footage from a press con­fer­ence, plus trail­ers and TV spots. Dave Golder The Tale Of The Bam­boo Cut­ter is thought to be the old­est Ja­panese prose nar­ra­tive in ex­is­tence, dat­ing from the 10th cen­tury.

She slept al­right un­til the clap­ping started.

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