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November 23, 2021 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Hayao Miyazaki Prepares to Cast One Last Spell “'When you meet something that is very strange that you haven’t met before, instead of being scared of it, try to connect with it,' Miyazaki tells me." Ligaya Mishan's interview with the genius animator for the New York Times is the first in an English-language publication since 2014.
posted by Artifice_Eternity (31 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
When the Archive.org site is ready with this can someone post the link please.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on November 23 [3 favorites]


Reminder that on his 80th birthday, Studio Ghibli released almost 2000 stills from their movies free for reasonable use here.
posted by mhoye at 1:25 PM on November 23 [11 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Here is archive.today
posted by stevil at 1:32 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


How many times is this dude gonna retire?
posted by aubilenon at 1:47 PM on November 23 [13 favorites]


"The-Actual-Information-As-A-Service" needs to become a thing

https://twitter.com/fka_tabs/status/1463259270573707268
posted by slater at 2:08 PM on November 23 [7 favorites]


In one of Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently books, there's a bit where (spoilers) they discover an abandoned time-traveling space ship. Its central... computer?... performs calculations that take the form of an astonishing, multilayered, interleaved, ever-unfolding music. Our heroes have to destroy the spaceship, but they're able to preserve some of the music--and since they're time-traveling, they're able to insert it into a remote historical period, attributing it to a made-up composer who they name "Bach". One of them says of the music, "It's rather more than one person could really have done, but I don't suppose anybody will question it too much."

That's how I feel about Miyazaki. It's rather more than one person could really have done, but I'm not going to question it too much. God bless the man, he's already done more than anybody has any right to ask, but may he remain unretired.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:33 PM on November 23 [40 favorites]


There's a lot of "actual information" in the article besides those few quotes. (And that tweet actually left out some of the quotes.) Anybody skipping the full-length profile for that set of bullet points is missing most of the substance.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:34 PM on November 23 [8 favorites]


*fights urge to wear a workshop apron at all times*
posted by gwint at 2:45 PM on November 23 [6 favorites]


Suzuki tells me that when Miyazaki came to him just over a year after retiring to say he wanted to make another film, “I was like, ‘Give me a break.’” He tried to talk him out of it, suggesting that Miyazaki’s best work was behind him.

"Look, Beethoven, you just finished your ninth symphony. You're deaf and in failing health. Your best work is behind you. Don't bother with those last few string quartets."
posted by Gerald Bostock at 3:14 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Meowzaki
posted by RobotHero at 4:21 PM on November 23


Not that I'm complaining.
posted by RobotHero at 4:24 PM on November 23


How many times is this dude gonna retire?

Not taking aim at you aubilenon, I just see this joke a lot and it's pretty unfair. He retired for the first time in 1998 because of the death of Studio Ghibli heir-apparent director Yoshifumi Kondō from conditions doctors linked to his brutal work schedule and habits, which both Miyazaki and Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata blamed themselves for. His later retirements were due to age (his last one in 2013 was at 72). Making animated films is really, really hard, exhausting, demanding work (especially to the standards of Miyazaki). It's not all that crazy or hard to understand why, after each one, as a pretty old man and especially after seeing a coworker and friend literally die from it, he'd think he's done putting himself through all that.

People act like he's KISS or The Eagles milking "retirement tours", but I think it's just that he truly is an artist and just can't turn off his creative impulses. He's sincere in wanting to retire, but then gets an idea that draws him back in. You can see this happening in the 2016 documentary Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, shot after his 2013 retirement from feature films. It's about him working on the 2018 short film Boro the Caterpillar, but during the course of the documentary you see him become more and more engrossed by the book How Do You Live? by Yoshino Genzaburo, and by the end of the documentary has decided to make a feature film based on it (the newest one discussed in the OP).
posted by star gentle uterus at 4:43 PM on November 23 [31 favorites]


Honestly, I prefer artists to do work they feel compelled to do out of artistic impulse instead of commercial impulse. I feel like U2's worst work has been when they've felt under commercial pressure. Pushing forward as an artist when you don't feel like it can either yield an amazing breakthrough, or can steer you into a cul-de-sac.

I'll be interested to see the new film. I have watched not much of the catalog overall, and should correct that sometime if I can find it. I could use a break from my compulsive NPR/PBS habit. (which admittedly is pretty harmless overall)
posted by hippybear at 8:50 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


It's lovely to see that pull quote from him "When you meet something that is very strange that you haven’t met before, instead of being scared of it, try to connect with it" it really captures what I see as one of the defining features of his films. Especially when compared to stuff like Disney. It's everywhere but it's easy to see in the parents. In a Miyazaki film, when a child sees something miraculous and goes and tells their parents, the parent automatically believes them and is curious about what they saw. In Disney movies, the same child would be brushed off and dismissed, told to get their head out of the clouds. I love it.
posted by macrael at 12:16 AM on November 24 [12 favorites]


a Miyazaki fantasy on a grand scale sounds amaaaaazing to me. can't wait.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:03 AM on November 24


Many Studio Ghibli films, not all, are streaming on HBO Max. It's $15 a month though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:42 AM on November 24


He's sincere in wanting to retire, but then gets an idea that draws him back in.

I dunno... The joke seems pretty fair just going by your own description. He retires regularly only to resurface with another work every few years. You're the one characterizing it as a KISS reunion joke. When the joke is that he just can't seem to get the hang of retirement.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:55 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]


In a Miyazaki film, when a child sees something miraculous and goes and tells their parents, the parent automatically believes them and is curious about what they saw. In Disney movies, the same child would be brushed off and dismissed, told to get their head out of the clouds.

Hmm, mostly?

If Chihiro's parents had listened to her and left (instead of dismissing her concerns, staying, and eating) there wouldn't have been the story of 'Spirited Away.'
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:52 AM on November 24 [5 favorites]


If Chihiro's parents had listened to her and left (instead of dismissing her concerns, staying, and eating) there wouldn't have been the story of 'Spirited Away.'

It just occurred to me that Chihiro never, ever told her parents of her / their experience.

And speaking of the end of Spirited Away, I'd like to admire again Miyazaki's appreciation for silence. It's notable that the Disney people felt they had to step in and dub some dialogue over the family's car driving away.
posted by Gelatin at 7:48 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


I'm inclined, in Spirited Away, to focus on the silence of the two most amazing minutes of cinema ever made, namely the train ride.
posted by Quasirandom at 7:53 AM on November 24 [7 favorites]


Whatever mechanic may be chosen for the narrative, I think in all cases the perceptual frameworks of children (and childhood) are respected & presented (often) w/o the interpretation of adults. Which is a very interesting choice as I was led to understand (many many years ago) that at least for Japanese children growing up in the 1960s/70s, the experience of 'playtime' was always supervised and mediated by adults. I'll confess, I'm no expert on sociological studies, let alone Japanese culture, but if true, it's an interesting 'lens' through which to view certain aspects of Miyazaki's work.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:08 AM on November 24 [1 favorite]


And speaking of the end of Spirited Away, I'd like to admire again Miyazaki's appreciation for silence. It's notable that the Disney people felt they had to step in and dub some dialogue over the family's car driving away.

That's not the only Disney dub where that happens. It's pretty egregious. Some of the Disney dubs also work hard to try to make characters fit into standard American templates (wisecracking sidekicks, etc., when that is not in the original.) I really recommend watching the originals wherever possible (or non-Disney dubs, for non-English translations).
posted by trig at 11:11 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


Some of the Disney dubs also work hard to try to make characters fit into standard American templates (wisecracking sidekicks, etc., when that is not in the original.)

As it happens, my lovely wife and I just rewatched Kiki's Delivery Service.
posted by Gelatin at 11:17 AM on November 24


Yup.
posted by trig at 11:24 AM on November 24


"How many times is this dude gonna retire?"

Shh- don't question, just let him work-
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:40 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


I really recommend watching the originals wherever possible (or non-Disney dubs, for non-English translations).

The GKIDS releases since D lost/sold the US DVD/BD distribution rights would be the gold standard for Ghibli, in my opinion. The D releases all use so-called 'dub subs' which exactly match the English dubbing so qualify as subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired (SDH). The GKIDs releases have separate English and English SDH subtitles.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 1:10 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


And speaking of the end of Spirited Away, I'd like to admire again Miyazaki's appreciation for silence. It's notable that the Disney people felt they had to step in and dub some dialogue over the family's car driving away.

There seems to be a Western (or just North American?) cultural expectation that movies should never be silent - apparently, Joe Hisaishi had to compose more music for some of the English dubs, to fill in part of the silence.

(Sometimes, the added dialogue does serve a purpose - adding more context that might be needed for non-Japanese audiences. But yes, I prefer the original - and it's very distracting when the subtitle track is set to match the dub and not the Japanese.)

I'm inclined, in Spirited Away, to focus on the silence of the two most amazing minutes of cinema ever made, namely the train ride.

Silence also frames my favourite moments of Princess Mononoke: the first appearance of the forest god.

I don't know about elsewhere, but in Canada, Netflix currently has most of the Studio Ghibli collection available, including less well known titles like Only Yesterday, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns (watch after Whisper - it's a sequel, per se, but it's linked).
posted by jb at 1:11 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]


The D releases all use so-called 'dub subs' which exactly match the English dubbing so qualify as subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired (SDH). The GKIDs releases have separate English and English SDH subtitles.

I'd have to double check my DVDs, but I have the Disney released versions, and I think that they have both tracks on them. But the default is the "dub subs", and you have to switch. But I did get some of them in about 2005, so maybe things changed later.
posted by jb at 1:15 PM on November 24


I think the D BD releases only had English dub subs. I wound up replacing those with the GKIDs discs as they came out.

There are pre-D DVD releases (including the one for 'Spirited Away' with the terrible color timing problem) which may have both.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 1:21 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


I'm inclined, in Spirited Away, to focus on the silence of the two most amazing minutes of cinema ever made, namely the train ride.

Octavio Paz said of Elizabeth Bishop, "The enormous power of reticence--that is the great lesson of [her poetry]."

Not explaining everything, letting some things just be, without backstory, is a good thing.

One of my favorite Lord of the Rings moments: Gandalf, returning to the company from his first encounter with the Balrog (he did not know what it was at that point):
Then something came into the chamber — I felt it through the door, and the orcs themselves were afraid and fell silent. It laid hold of the iron ring, and then it perceived me and my spell.

'What it was I cannot guess, but I have never felt such a challenge. The counter-spell was terrible. It nearly broke me. For an instant the door left my control and began to open! I had to speak a word of Command. [emphasis added]
I don't think "a word of Command" is ever mentioned again in the LOTR (though maybe it is elsewhere). It's never explained--the hobbits don't even ask about it! It's just a thing wizards do, end of story.

That's what I love about that journey. (In addition to its extraordinary beauty, of course.) Those shadow-figures, the distant house--all of it would have been diminished if anyone had launched into an explanation. As for Chihiro, I think she doesn't ask because, in that moment, her capacity for absorbing new information was about at its limit.

I'm excited for more work from Miyazaki.
posted by Caxton1476 at 1:55 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


Insert Clever Name Here - you may be right, it's been a while since I watched mine, and I do remember being annoyed during Castle in the Sky when silent scenes were interrupted by subtitles.

This makes me glad that D (are we talking about the same big mouse company?) is no longer the distributor. They also tended to ignore the parts of the catelogue that weren't for kids, like My Neighbours the Yamadas and Only Yesterday. (These are two films I like to cite as prime examples of G-rated but decidedly adult animation, in that they address themes of growing old(er) and nostalgia that just wouldn't make sense to a kid).
posted by jb at 1:58 PM on November 24


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