25 November 2013

夢と狂気の王国 Yume to Kyôki no Ôkoku

Title: 夢と狂気の王国 Yume to Kyôki no Ôkoku
English Title: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Year: 2013
  • Miyazaki Hayao
  • Suzuki Toshio
  • Takahata Isao
  • Miyazaki Goro
  • Sankichi
  • Nonaka
  • Nishimura
  • Anno Hideaki

It is a documentary on the key people behind the animation company Studio Ghibli: creative director Miyazaki Hayao, savvy producer Suzuki Toshio, and the elusive director Takahata Isao.

Yume to Kyôki no Ôkoku is a compelling documentary about the lives and views of some of the most successful and influential people in the animation industry. It focuses on the production process primarily for the film Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises), but also for the movie かぐや姫の物語 Kaguya Hime no Monogatari (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya).

It was fascinating to find out how animated films are created and produced, particularly within Studio Ghibli. It was surprising that the acclaimed director doesn't write scripts, and writes storyboards instead. I was intrigued to find out that he doesn't even know how his movies will turn out.

Miyazaki Hayao: (It's) not like I have a script. I'm really not working off any guidelines, you know. I honestly don't know what kind of film we'll end up with.
Miyazaki Hayao: This may sound ridiculous but I've had staff tell me they have no idea what's going on in my films. When we were making Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away), even I didn't know. The way I see it, we may never understand them.
Miyazaki Hayao: What does one know about this world?... The world isn't simple enough to explain in words.

I am not an avid watcher of animated films, but I have watched many films produced by Studio Ghibli. While I liked a few films like Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) and Hauru no Ugoku Shiro (Howl's Moving Castle), I didn't really understand some other films such as Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). It was comforting to discover that it's fine if I don't understand some films, and that I shouldn't worry too much about it.

Anyway, the focus of the documentary is actually on Miyazaki Hayao, and it's very interesting to hear his views about many different things.

Miyazaki Hayao: Problems begin the moment we're born. We're born with infinite possibilities, only to give up on one after another. To choose one thing means to give up on another. That's inevitable. But what can you do? That's what it is to live.

Studio Ghibli seemed like a cool company to work for. I liked the noticeboards and the creative work charts tacked on the office walls.

Studio Ghibli noticeboard: Please quit if you (1) have no ideas, (2) always rely on others, (3) shirk responsibility, (4) lack enthusiasm.

夢と狂気の王国 Yume to Kyôki no Ôkoku