New Year's Day Movies - Gauche the Cellist

(Update: This video has since been removed from Youtube.  Sorry.)

Alright, this is the last of it, I swear! Hah. We never know how long we have these movies available, so it's best to strike fast.

Gauche the Cellist is one of my favorite Isao Takahata films. I'd probably rank it just after Omohide Poro Poro and Horus, Prince of the Sun. It's a magnificent little picture, quiet and peaceful, full of the details of daily life.

This also happens to be one of the great movie about the transcendent power of music. I can't think of a better movie where music plays such a vital role (no, Sound of Music and West Side Story never did it for me). Where did Takahata get inspired to draw together a beloved children's poem (by Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa) and Beethoven's Pastorale? Perhaps he saw Beethoven as the thread that links together the different worlds.

Gauche has never been released in North America. Studio Ghibli wisely secured the DVD rights last year, releasing a new 2-disc set on the Ghibli ga Ippai label. That means, I suppose, that Disney could have the option of releasing it here in the States. That's certainly a no-brainer, a smart decision that everyone would love. Which means it will never happen.

I still don't understand this. Disney should have established a seperate Ghibli line, just like in Japan. This would enable them to import all those other films in addition to the features. Ghibli ga Ippai Short Short, for instance, or Yanagawa Waterways. Gauche is perfect for that. Heck, the suits have spend the money for these DVDs already, why not just translate the text and make a couple bucks more?

For the rest of us, then, importing remains our only option. If you're a real fan, then you're doing this already. But it will be nice when we finally do away with all this region-coded nonsense and have global digital distribution. Smart businesspeople should be getting in on the ground floor right now. That's the future.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil anything for you, so enjoy this wonderful movie. Happy New Year's 2008!


Brian said...

The videos seem to be gone now. Bummer, I love to see hard to see films like this.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

No, you're mistaken. I'm checking right now at the Apple store at the Megamall. Gauche is playing just fine. Thank goodness for that, eh?

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, though. This enables me a chance to test an idea of mine (offering movies for free online, then...sorry, I've said too much. Best to keep quiet for now.

Adrienne said...

That region-coded nonsense? Ah, then how will the studios make their $$ unless they can pick their release dates for different markets? Make the release dates of films the same everywhere? Education!!

Of course, perhaps it all evens out if the studios are really losing as much as they say they are due to piracy...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

The piracy issue one is a very interesting one. Here's what I recomment: Edward Jay Epstein. His insights into the business of Hollywood is remarkable and essential.

I'm not too worried about Hollywood. We need to think on wider terms. Hollywood will take care of itself and its hits. We are out here, in the tail. We're in the realm of all those hidden gems and little surprises that have been overlooked by the mass media machine. Individually, none of these will be great hits (Alvin & the Chipmunks will earn more money in one weekend than Yuri Norstein in his whole life); but collectively, we have great power.

My aim is independent animation, foreign animation, and the Japanese anime I'm always raving about. If my plans come together, then the doors are wide open for, well, anything. This animal could evolve in any number of directions.

Region coding is a real problem, and it related to the greater issue of the internet. When you can connect with the entire globe for the same cost (practically nothing) as your home town, with no real change in service, what does that do? Would a company even need a foreign distributor at all? Really, what's stoping these suits from doing it by themselves?

Yep, that's another big post, becasue I think it's my greatest challenge for success. This will be one of the key questions potential clients will ask.

But you all know I'm no friend to region codes. They're absurd. For this business, I want to reach as many markets as possible. Even if I have to claw and scrape and add new regions one at a time - N. America, then S. America, then Europe. Asia would likely be the last, since that's where the original media is. They'll be easier to convince that our team can handle these foreign markets. Language is a big issue, which hurls you into subtitles and soundtracks - much easier for the American kid to handle than the Japanese. Right?

If other studios or distributors are for region codes, let 'em. More for me. It's one thing to let North Americans download Future Boy Conan. It's another game when you can add in the Americas and Europe.

Like I've said - it's all about getting to the party first.

The real challenge is getting the business model together - the basic rules of the game. The internet requires a new set of rules. Once that can be agreed to, the rest will be a cinch.

Thanks again for the insights. I always appreciate the fan letters.

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