KICFF 2014

Hayao Miyazaki Films

Abhijit Ghosh-Dastidar

The Kolkata International Children’s Film Festival (December 2014) mounted a retrospective of animation films by Hayao Miyazaki. The Mayazaki films of animation, character design and environments are composed at a level that appeals to both kids and adults. Fables and fantasies are pictorially raised to enchanting visuals. Forests of poisoned fungi swallow up large parts of the world in ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’ (Japan, 1984, colour, 117 mins). The blue sky, with clouds, overlooks men working with poles and ice chunks on a river. Birds and an aircraft fly around. Dynamite shells explode, and insect guns aim at other insects. Princess Nausicaa lands in an air glider, but her father cannot fly anymore. The Japanese cartoon manga-born science fiction–folklore fantasy hurls into non-stop war. Master Yupa feeds water to farm mules. The princess makes windmills turn. There are strong winds and storms. At night large planes are sighted. An aircraft crashes at sea side cliffs. Bright fires and debris are all around. The princess saves a little girl, and orders insects to fly away, with a sling. Fighter aircrafts contrast with windmills on green meadows. Soldiers lie dead on snow. Princess fights with alien soldiers. Gun ship attacks continue. The Princess searches for fresh clean water, as the soil of the valley is polluted. The wounded Princess dies, and is lifted by weeds to the skies. The princess drifts in the sky, and prince Kushama and the villages look at the miracle in amazement. Wearing robes of blue in golden light, the Princess descends to a golden field. The wind is back.

In ‘Castle in the Sky’ (Japan, 1986, colour, 124 mins), a young boy Pazu meets a girl Sheeta, who was floated down from the sky. The girl only remembers an airship. The two children are chased by airborne pilots, armed forces, and government secret agents. Laputa island floats in the sky, and carries hopes of a lost civilization. Pirates attack an army train, which derails, over a collapsing bridge. The two youngsters crash land, and float due to the magical powers of Sheeta’s necklace. Sheeta is imprisoned, utters magic words. Light follows and robots spell fires. Colonel Muska blows up a castle, and attacks floating island, Laputa. Robots come alive, soldiers flee, and Sheeta returns to consciousness. Helicopters are blown up by robots, and in the smoke screen, Sheeta escapes with Pazu. Sheeta’s secret stone possesses a sacred light. Before sunrise, there are storms and air battles. Laputa is a city of forests. The treasure vaults are covered with tree roots. The throne room has turned to a grave. Castle walls crumble, and Laputa disappears in the sky horizon. Capt Mama is united with Pazu and Sheeta.

‘My Neighbour Totoro’ (Japan, 1988, colour, 86 mins) is a fantasy rich blend of birth, childhood and growing wisdom. Sansukie and Mae, live in a rickety house with creaking wooden pillars. The father has to go outdoors to the University, and the mother is ill, admitted in hospital. The surrounding forest has mystical creatures called Totoros, and the children become friends with the eldest creature Totoro, windows open, bats fly and animal faces appear. Neighbour Nanny talks of spirits, and makes friends with squirrels. Mae goes missing after receiving a telegram from the hospital. Totoro drives a big bus with cats, and takes in Sansukie. Mae is found near Buddhist pilgrim statues. The children arrive in hospital. The mother is in good health. The window still opens on to corn sheaths.

In ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ (Japan, 1989, colour, 103 mins) 13-year-old Kiki rides a broom with a black kitten Jiji, files across the sky for training in witchcraft to another town. Small aircraft pass by. It rains on a star lit sky. Kiki also travels on a goods train. Working in a confectionery, Kiki delivers bakery items, flying on a broom. Wild geese fly along with Kiki, when Kiki falls ill and unable to fly, another boy Tombo, helps in delivery services with his cycle, which has a propeller plane fitted. Eggs of wild geese are saved from falling gliders. Kiki makes swerving curves and flies through torrential rains. After several summersaults, Kiki rescues Tombo, who is about to crash. Friends and acquaintances watch in amazement. Cat Jiji returns.

Vol. 47, No. 32, Feb 15 -21, 2015