Deep Thought

I really should get around to that long-winded essay on Tales From Earthsea one of these days.

In answer to a reader's question on the subject, I just haven't had the energy to write my thoughts on the movie. I think it's dreadful, just bloody awful. Much like the Vikings-Eagles playoff game a couple weeks ago was a textbook lesson in rookie Quarterback vs veteran Quarterback, Gedo Senki lays bare the essential role of director. Goro Miyazaki had no experience whatsoever in making a movie, and, frankly, is showed.

This also brings up my second reason for my reluctance to talk about Goro's Earthsea movie. I simply don't wish to be overly critical. I do not wish to behave like some judgemental jerk. That's one of those personality traits I've worked to overcome in my lifetime, and I'm sure the more diligent readers will find ample examples here on the Ghibli blog. I would prefer to offer my opinions and insights more thoughtfully, without any degree of bitterness or partisan rancor.

I do promise to sit down and explain chapter and verse of what resonates with me about Earthsea. Until then, here's the short-short version: it stinks.

Needless to say, Goro is under tremendous pressure to deliver the goods on his second directoral feature.


Anonymous said...

IMVHO the history of Gedo Senki is very interesting.

I had read the Goro Miyazaki's Blog Translation. The second CD of German version contains a lot of "making of..." information. I had also read the second source: Hayao's "Shuna no tabi / The journey of Shuna"

IMVHO Goro is a good director of the Ghibli Museum. His Gedo Senki is a very good "guided tour". Only one problem is that the referenced parts are not connected. Of cource the end of the story is missing.

Anonymous said...

As a long time reader of your blog, I greatly respect your opinion, but I was less disappointed with Gedo Senki than you were. I could never go so far as to say that it stinks.

There is no denying that the film has serious flaws, but there is much to like about it (at least superficially): most of it is absolutely beautiful. Up until recently, the Ghibli Museum had many of the backgrounds of the film on display. (They've since been replaced by Ponyo backgrounds.) I loved to go and stare at them and lose myself in them. They were really quite nice.

The world of Earthsea is very well realized. Many of the locations were wonderful. Moreover, the music was also nice and complemented the story.

Miyazaki Goro is NOT his father. (No one is.) Story wise it most lacked compassion, I believe. The characters came off a bit thin, and the initial murder was neither explained sufficiently nor justified.

I also think it was a mistake to mostly adapt Tehanu. Although there was some from The Farthest Shore, I thought it would have been much better to stick with that book exclusively. Tehanu is a decidedly feminist book in which Ged is in many ways castrated. It's not my favorite book in the series at all. To adapt it to film is to wrestle with Le Guin's agenda. That's not a task to be taken lightly.

Finally, and again superficially, the climax was likeable in a Hollywood kind of way.

So, to politely counter your opinion, I'd like to say that this movie has some things to offer, and no matter what, in its flawed form, it's miles better than most American animation (Pixar definitely excluded).

asuka said...

i have to say i thought the film was dreadful. heavy-handed in its moralizing, monotonous in its mood and pacing, its visuals humourless and lacking in delight.
(i find chris's comments interesting - in a way, comparing film to source material is pointless, but i did not think the world of earthsea was well realized at all! - though i agree that chosing tehanu was also a bad move. ideally, i think i would have picked  the tombs of atuan, and got oshii to do it, or maybe ABe and the gangfrom lain and nieA_7, in order to capture some of the nastiness of it!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel, nice reading your entry on Gedo Senki. I agree with what you said, it does stink, and I think its ok to be critical in a constructive way. :). I guess to put it in another way, without putting Goro as a person down, looking at his work, I don't think he's ready to be a director. He has the support of the studio staff, which did a lot of the good work, without them, the story would have fallen even further. Nevertheless, even with good character design, animation, layout and background painting work, the story somehow feels flat, and boring. While I agree with Chris that Goro is not his father, I think its fair to compare at least young directors coming out to make a feature has to have a certain standard. Goro may have the talent of being an artist as he storyboard the script out, but making an animation feature is more than just able to make storyboard. There were a number of shots where it felt drawn out too long in pace, character felt somewhat flat, I was wondering where's the story heading. IMHO, Miyazaki senior's objection may have good grounds, towards Goro directing the feature, due to his lack of experience and training. But on the flip side, why didn't the father at least come along side and train his son from ground up if Ghibli really wanted to produce upcoming directors? I guess there are more reasons that we might not know.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see this film as I am awaiting the eventual North American release. I have the option of importing the UK DVD as my DVD player is Region Free, but I've decided to wait. (It is now 2009 and they should be able to release it here now...right?)

Anyway, the film definitely does seem to have a love/like/dislike/hate thing going on in terms of response. Too often it seems is that people are comparing Goro to his father or any other Ghibli film for that matter. (I realize not all are doing this) It's gotten to a point where my expectations for this film are quite low. (although they were always in check because I never expected "greatness" in Goro's first effort) So when I eventually do see this film, I will not be all that surprised if I find myself liking it a lot.

p.s. Has anybody else seen "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" by Mamoru Hosada? I recently did and wow what a great film!

Anonymous said...

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a great movie.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's nice to spur a little debate!

I'd like to further defend my idea that Earthsea in the film was well realized. Here are some links to some pictures from the film from the Buta Connection website. I can really lose yourself in the beauty of these images. Contes de Terremer&gal=Film&pic=13.jpg Contes de Terremer&gal=Film&pic=34.jpg Contes de Terremer&gal=Film&pic=20.jpg Contes de Terremer&gal=Film&pic=03.jpg

Sorry for the overkill, but I think visuals will argue my point far better than any words I use. Again, I am not saying that Gedo Senki is a masterpiece. It is not that at all. But I think to dismiss it so severely is a reaction to expectation and a bit too bitter. Frankly, I think it is ambitious but it fails to reach its ambitions. I respect the attempt, however. Films are collections of story, visuals, and sounds and music. I think that while the story failed, the visuals and sounds and music were quite nice. Now this is a tribute more to the artists of Studio Ghibli than to Miyazaki Goro, of course, but as director he organized and guided the vision.

And I'll go to my grave saying it was just so superior to (non-Pixar) animation in America, not in its eventual product but in its intentions and respect for the audience.

Hell, I don't know why I'm defending this movie so strongly. I really don't like it all that much. I just always am saddened at the anger people have for entertainment they deem disappointing. So many people feel such a betrayal when art and entertainment doesn't live up to certain expectations. In the end, they are just movies, even the great ones.

More Ghibli Blog Posts To Discover