Posters - Night on the Galactic Railroad
For everyone who's a new visitor to the Ghibli Blog, a big hello and a quick explanation. This website is devoted to exploring the long and successful careers of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. We discuss their films at Studio Ghibli, and the many animation films and tv series they helped create since the 1960's. And we also discuss their many peers and rivals who helped shape and influence Japanese animation, as well as animators from around the world.
Above all, this is a website dedicated to the movies, which is why oftentimes we'll devote space to non-Ghibli anime and American films. And this is why I'm showing you the poster to film, one of the true anime masterpieces, Night on the Galactic Railroad.
Night on the Galactic Railroad was adapted from the work of famed Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa. His story of children on a mystical journey on a locomotive train was fueled by the sudden death of his sister. Miyazawa wrote his story as an attempt to deal with the grief and address the deepest questions of life, and influenced by his Buddhist and Christian faith.
The film version was directed by Gisaburo Sugii, one of anime's true greats. He famously directed the anarchic cartoon series Goku's Big Adventure in the 1960s, and was the creative force behind the 1975 art-house classic Belladonna of Sadness. Night on the Galactic Railroad stands as his masterpiece. It almost stands alone in the world of Japanese anime: spiritual, meditative, mysterious, brooding. His choice of anthromorphic cats for the main characters is inspired brilliance, adding a layer of symbolism to a movie already dense with surrealist icons.
Night on the Galactic Railroad is often described as slow, usually by Westerners used to rapid-fire Hollywood blockbusters. The plot might draw clear parallels to The Polar Express (and that's a subject worth exploring), but its agenda is much deeper. Awe, reverence, wonder, the search for meaning...yeah, this is an entirely different train ride. You won't find Tom Hanks singing and dancing anywhere near this train.
The film was shown at last year's International Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan. It is widely regarded as among the greatest and mysterious of animation films. The American DVD, released by Central Park Media, is long out of print, just like Grave of the Fireflies. Can you believe that? Those two films are more alike than you'd realize. It's no wonder they both share a space in limbo now. Again, all I can say is, thank goodness for the fansubs.