(1989) dir. Hayao Miyazaki
I’ve been a fan of director Hayao Miyazaki for at least 10 years, since I originally saw My Neighbor Totoro (1988), though I had realized that I had seen others of his earlier films previously without knowing who he was. Despite a brief phase of trying to see some of his other films, I hadn’t caught up on all of his work. When Disney finally got around to releasing his back catalog on DVD (something they have only started), I snapped up Laputa: Castle in the Sky sight-unseen, which is notably unusual for me since I buy very few DVD’s and hardly ever (ever) ones that I have not actually seen before. Of course, I snapped this up a couple months ago and only just now got a chance to see it.
What is constantly amazing about Miyazaki’s work is his ability to create such amazing sense of location in his animation. The worlds of his films are typically fantastical, but are also amazingly realized. They are also quite typically beautifully rendered.
Many of Miyazaki’s themes are prevalent in this film. Like most of his films, Laputa features a young female protagonist, a subtle but appealing aspect of his narratives. His films tend away from having true “villains,” though often if there is any “evil,” it is embodied in unnatural pollution and those who act against the “environment.”
The most appealing fantasy aspects of this film are the decrepit giant robots and the sky pirates’ dragonfly-like air scooters. Most of his films feature some (or many) transformative fantasy elements.
One thing I can definitely tell you: I will raise my children to watch Hayao Miyazaki films. They are wonderful.