Today's Screenshots - Gedo Senki

Haven't done this in quite a while (it is pretty time-consuming, dontcha know), so I thought I'd spread the harvest around and show off a number of screenshots from Goro Miyazaki's Gedo Senki.

I've just finished watching it, and I'm going to need time to piece everything together and figure out a more diplomatic method of presenting my thoughts. There's a lot to jumble down, from the presentation of the movie itself, its relation to Ursula LeGuinn's Earthsea novels, and (obviously) Goro's relations with his old man. Whatever. I need sleep.

But just in case you're wondering, here's my "short, short version" (arcane Mel Brooks riff, dontcha know) of Goro's first movie:

It's shit. Absolute fucking shit. And you can quote me on that.

More to come later.


Anonymous said...

Well Daniel, you really got my attention! I was really looking forward to this one too. Looking forward to your full blown review.


Chris Sobieniak said...

Making me a tad interested to download a copy off BitTorrent to view for the time being (noticed a fansubbed .srt file that was made as well).

Benjamin said...

Talking about reviews... I just watched Howl for the first time a few days ago, and was wondering if you're ever going to upload the full review? Or is it hidden somewhere in the blog archives?

mulligan said...

For those who haven't yet seen it: Boy commits patricide to obtain a lightsabre/lifesaver which eventually enables him to save the lifes of
a) his father reincarnated,
b) the girl he loves (his soulmate, no less; the soul of the boy freaking leaves its host and adresses this girl. A girl who, by the way, cannot die because the boy's spoken her, ahem, "essential name". Something along those lines. Right.) and
c) the girl's substitute mother (who, surprisingly, is romanticly involved with aforementioned Father v2 and who, naturally, lives amidst beautiful, golden fields of fertile soil, while the City of the narration produces nothing but deceit and slavery and drugs.) (the girl's biological parents abondoned her.. to the streets! Rah! Shame on 'em!).

Enables the boy to save his new-found contemporary sketch of a family from - check this out - an evil wrong-doing witch (Flawless Sorceress-sama Assembling Kit, complete with dark, gloomy castle and masked, hired brutes. Nuances sold seperately.) who has renounced death, and by that renounced life. Oh how inventive.
Take it to heart, kids: "by renouncing death, you're renouncing life!" (I know, I'm being really irritating in repeating myself.. if you watch the movie, you'll know why I do so. Actually I'm just quoting sheez knows how many of Gedo Senki's characters spelling this out for us.)

Aiffe said...

The book was better. And conveniently in English. Same goes for Howl.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Good analysis from Mulligan. He pretty much nails it on the head. I'd still say, however, that you're putting more thought into the script than Goro ever did. That's my real beef with the movie, that it really isn't much more than an excuse for an overgrown crybaby to whine about his daddy.

Sorry, I'm an American, and I've already dealt with six years of that. Not doin' it again.

mulligan said...

(Good to have you back, Daniel.)
I know, I'm a minority, but when "reading" any piece of art or craft (being it literature, or a tonal piece, or some beaten up copper plate with stains of red wine - or a motion/-less picture) I tend to disregard any interest in or knowledge of the guessworking or empirical context. It just isn't very relevant in my opinion (hilarious anecdotes excluded, naturally; I'm always short of strange things to tell strange people).

But yeah, Daniel, yer quite right; I'm probably making the movie more than it is, by even structuring the clichées-on-parade that is Gedo Senki.

Oh!, however, now I come to think of it: the scene where the boy (whatshisname) and the girl (whatshername) meet? For a second there, in her rejection, she is Nausicaä. (I did a lecture on the homeric, the joycean and the miyazaki Nausicaä recently - maybe it's just me seeing Nausicaäs everywhere..)

Anonymous said...

I'm currently on the third of the Earthsea novels ("The Farthest Shore") by Le Guin.. the one where the characters and "story" for Gendo no Senki takes from .. or so I thought. I took a peek at the fansubs .. nothing makes sense x_x! I plan to finish the book before watching the anime in its entirety, but I'm already disappointed with what I've seen. The roles have no relation to the events in the book. Especially getting to know Ged from his dark beginnings, the anime makes him seem almost insignificant. Even Tenar has an interesting shadowed past. Is Tenar the girl with whom Prince Arren falls in love? - argh, I don't want to know. Figures the author was not happy with the efforts of the show's translation.

Anonymous said...

Well, I might have said it more politely, but "absolute fucking shit" is pretty close. I was really looking forward to watching it, despite the mixed reviews, but omigod . . .

In the film's defense, there is some exquisite craftsmanship in the animation: Hort Town is very well done; you can just about smell it. The initial scenes at sea and in the court of Enlad are as good as anything you’ll see, as is the depiction of Tenar’s farm, but visial prettiness can't compensate for the utter incoherence of the screenplay. This isn't the ordinary Japanese tolerance for ambiguity and loose ends – this is most of the ends flapping loose, and things that simply make no sense, particularly if you haven’t read the books. The plot is assembled from bits and pieces of LeGuin, taken out of context, chopped up and glued together into a rough semblance of a story. No. it didn’t work well for Dr. Frankenstein either.

The movie feels both too large and too small. It’s too large in that it bites off more than it can chew; there are many hints of a wider world, but they are not adequately explained, when they’re explained at all. I can’t imagine that someone who hadn’t read the books could understand many of the lines in the film at all. I can imagine someone watching the film cold coming out utterly mystified about a myriad of essential points in the plot:
Why did Arren kill his father?
Why does he act so weird in the beginning, then why does he stop?
What’s he afraid of?
What’s the deal with the girl tuning into a dragon?
Why can’t Arren draw the sword?
What in the world are the Tombs of Atuan, and why should I care?
What’s the deal with that duplicate of Arren?
And most central - why in the blue-eyed world does Cob’s attempt to find eternal life affect other things? Why did the weatherworker forget his spells? Why did the dragons fight? Is this somehow connected?

Ursua LeGuin ties things together wonderfully. One has, in the books, a clear sense of both the wider context, and the immediate reasons for the events described. The screenplay, alas does not effectively tie together the pieces it takes from the books, and some of the elements that it adds (Arren killing his father) seem almost random. Without this context, the lines from the books about “renouncing life by renouncing death” come off as insufferably preachy, thrown in with little connection to the story.

OTOH, the film feels too small in that all of the movie’s central action really only involves five characters. The climactic scenes in the castle feel like a stage play, almost claustrophobic – a big empty castle for atmosphere, but really only a few people involved. One never has a sense that events are in context, as one always does in the books.

Ultimately, although the film has some good parts, they’re just parts. It barely forms a coherent whole, and lots of the parts don’t fit well. The problem seems to be the screenplay and the direction. Perhaps Goro Miyazaki will learn to do better, but despite all the craftsmanship of Studio Ghibli, his first film is pretty bad. After watching Gedo Senki I sat down and read The Farthest Shore again – and oh, what an opportunity lost!

Anonymous said...

I found this blog looking up Miyazaki's stuff, and I must say that you, Daniel, have described Studio Ghibli's movies PERFECTLY. I couldn't ask for a better description for them! I have several of them, and LOVE them incessantly; I just recently saw Porco Rosso, and it's now right at the top of my Ghibli favs list w/ Nausicaa.

I totally understand what you mean about the stereotypical Disney stuff (I can only take so much princess crap before I have to go watch Rambo or something w/ violence). W/ Miyazaki's stuff, it's so much more real, so much more personable, so much more touching. I'm an artist (and dream of working at Stuido Ghibli someday, despite my obvious white-ness and American blah-ness), and I find myself automatically looking at the scenery and the little details in animated movies. In these movies, I can pretty much gorge myself on all the beautiful details, and not only the ones in the artwork. Miyazaki is the ultimate sensei of animated films!!

so thanks again for this wonderful blog and your wonderful descriptions, Daniel!! I'll be checking it regularly! (This is going in my favs for sure!!) :D

asuka said...

yep - it's pretty dreadful. is that why you have resisted posting a proper review? you can't bring yourself to such a formal acknowledgment that the same studio responsible for mimi-o sumaseba, poro poro, totoro and nausicäa could produce... this? ^^

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover