director Mami Sunada
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is a Japanese documentary about Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, producer Toshio Suzuki, and to a lesser extent director Isao Takahata as well. Director Mami Sunada was given great access to the master animator and his studio during the process of making his film The Wind Rises (2013), which is said to be his final film as director. At the end of production of that film, in the midst of this one, Miyazaki announces his official retirement.
To be honest, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is a bit of a slog. At nearly two hours, the film takes its gentle observational flitting about Miyazaki’s world, capturing a master in action, but proving out that the reality of daily animation production isn’t a particularly exciting one.
Sunada does observe a note that Miyazaki has posted to his associates regarding their work at Studio Ghibli, to allow him to “watch” them work. And that is the approach employed in the film. The film does delve into his past, his history, and his story as well, but not in a terribly compelling way.
For a hardcore Miyazaki fan, it’s certainly still worthwhile. But for anyone less so I can’t imagine them enjoying it.