Takahata Riffs #3



There are at least a couple more riffs from Jarinko Chie that I want to show to everyone. Just let me throw a pizza in the oven and Master of Reality on the turntable.

This is a good opportunity to explain just what you can do by riffing. As we've seen, and as all movie lovers already know, quoting shots or brief moments from earlier movies is a common way of paying tribute. Young filmmakers pay tribute to their teachers, more experienced veterans tip their hats to cherished memories from their own past.

There's another reason, and I think it's the best method, the most intelligent. Observe the latest Takahata riff - it's a shot that reappears in Omohide Poro Poro years later. It's an important homage because it reflects the kind of picture we're watching. I don't think this is quite the same as Miyazaki's Panda Kopanda riff at the start of My Neighbor Totoro; that was at the very beginning, while the Jarinko Chie riffs all appear in Poro Poro's second half.

Chie is, in many ways, a tribute Japan's western Kansai region, and Kobe in particular, where the story takes place. Poro Poro is all about tribute; a tribute to the '60s and the enormous cultural changes taking place, a tribute to Japan's agricultural past. The only real difference is time. The first movie is a love letter to the present day. The second is a lovelorn letter to the past, a yearning to return to what was lost. Which is, of course, the theme du jour for Studio Ghihbli.

So in that respect, Poro Poro plays out like a World Masterpiece Theatre version of Jarinko Chie, with all the complicated family drama played out on a cultural scale.

Now on to the screenshots. The first shot comes in an early scene, with a moment of seriousness after a lengthy bit of slapstick and blue humor. Oh, have I ever told you that Jarinko Chie is loaded with bathroom humor? Must've slipped my mind.

The second shot is at the end of one of my favorite scenes in Poro Poro, the ending to the Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima segment. I always bat about in my mind whether this scene or the sunrise scene is the film's single best moment; fantastic detail, brilliant color, a masterful use of editing, and heavy emotions. Every technique from the filmmaker's bag of tricks is on display.

And, naturally, it also helps that I really dig both movies.

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