The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Poetry in animation
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
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.