Miyazaki Riffs #6



Here is another one of those Miyazaki Riffs that has appeared more than once: the deathbed confession. Horus, Prince of the Sun is where is all starts, with the somber scene of the death of Horus' father. It's a somber moment, and it's very effective, because it not only establishes the emotional drive for the main character - "Horus, go to your people!" - but that it underscores the seriousness of the film.

In Future Boy Conan, Miyazaki pays tribute early on, with the death of Conan's grandfather in episode 2. As before, Conan is told the story of how they arrived at their current home on Remnant Island. As before, the grandfather implores the boy to leave and find his true calling among his people.

Also, note the surroundings. In both instances, the escape vehicle (in Horus, a boat; in Conan, a spaceship) has been converted into a makeshift home. At least this time, Conan doesn't burn down the place like Horus does.

Now here's a third and lesser-known appearance of the deathbed confession. It appears in the 1969 Toei Doga film, "The Flying Ghost Ship." It's a low-budget picture, one of many the studio started churning out during its period of decline. The reason we remember it is because Miyazaki worked on it as a key animator, and contributed many ideas.

Again, we same the same setup. Only this time, the boy has lost both his parents. The father also reveals that he is not the boy's real father; the father turns out to be the mysterious Ghost Ship captain. The fadeout is a little similar to the fish-eye lens shot at the end of the scene from Horus.

It's interesting to note that several bits and pieces from The Flying Ghost Ship reappear in Future Boy Conan. If it weren't for that, and Miyazaki's scene depicting a tank battle in downtown Tokyo (which, also, is recreated in the second Lupin III series finale, "Farewell, Beloved Lupin," in 1979), this picture would be relegated to the b-movie status it deserves.

3 comments:

Procyon said...

Being a long time Miyazaki fan i've also been on the hunt for these little riffs! :')
Its very interesting to trace his career backward and discover were he got his ideas and inspiration from. Just resently i got a hold of a 1957 soviet animated feature called "The Snow Queen" directed by a "Lev Atamanov". You can clearly tell it has been a big influence on japanese animation in general and Takahata/Miyazaki in particular.
Now here's the interesting part, in wikipedia, the Toei movie "The Flying Ghost Ship" is credited as being directed by that same Lev Atamanov...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The Flying Ghost Ship was a joint venture between Toei and the Russians. That's why the fansub copy has a Russian language track. The Snow Queen is regarded highly, and was an influence on Japanese animators. It must have been great for Toei to work with Atamanov; too bad Flying Ghost Ship was such a cheesy, low-budget b-movie. It has its charms, in a MST3K sort of way, but, again, if it weren't for Miyazaki, hardly anyone would bother to remember.

Chris Sobieniak said...

At November 03, 2006 3:44 PM, Daniel Thomas MacInnes said…

The Flying Ghost Ship was a joint venture between Toei and the Russians. That's why the fansub copy has a Russian language track.

Other than the other one that's flying out there in BT that's essentially a rip from an old VHS fansub done of the Japanese edition. The Russian release was handled through the state-run Soyuzmultfilm.

The Snow Queen is regarded highly, and was an influence on Japanese animators.

As opposed to the Universal-International release that only manages to credit Soyuzmultfilm by name with nothing else (and why Dave Fleischer got to be a consultant on that I'll never know). Of course there's the copies that are sold by Films by Jove that probably should be considered over the usual Public Dormain DVDs.

It must have been great for Toei to work with Atamanov; too bad Flying Ghost Ship was such a cheesy, low-budget b-movie. It has its charms, in a MST3K sort of way, but, again, if it weren't for Miyazaki, hardly anyone would bother to remember.

True. I never realize how cheesy this movie was until I saw it, and noticed how badly it reflects that over time. Nowhere near the enjoyment I had with Puss 'n Boots and others of this period.

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