Photos - Omohide Poro Poro

Time once again for a series of photos from Isao Takahata's Studio Ghibli masterpiece, 1991, Omohide Poro Poro. The DVD continues to be censored from the North American market, but it has become available in most regions across the world. My Japanese Region-2 copy is a prized possession in my library; the rest of you here in the States can download the fansub copy (which has slightly better subtitles).

Most of these shots come from the flashback segments of Taeko-chan's childhood. I tried to post these in chronological order, but ended up doing the exact reverse. Ah, it's just as well. The juxtoposition between the present day and childhood give the movie a non-linear feel. Its structure is not unlike Citizen Kane, a movie whose influence Takahata acknowledged in Heidi and Anne.

The third screenshot, of the family dining room inside the barn, is a direct homage to Igmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries. Bergman's film dealt with similar issues of memory the role our past plays in our present lives, and I'm sure it was a great influence to Takahata.

For Americans who demand something more from their animation - stronger roles for women, less violence and explosions, less cynical commercialism, more complex and emotionally honest storytelling - Omohide Poro Poro is the answer to their prayers. I have no doubt it could become a success and find a broad fanbase, given the proper time and exposure. But first it must be allowed to be seen at all. Disney's studio bosses must lose their squeamishness and their fear of retribution from the fundamentalist right.

I continue to insist that this is the greatest animation movie ever made. And it is your responsibility to discover that for yourself.


duygu said...

Oh I desperately wanted to make a comment on this post, for this is one of my favorite movies ever, but those last paragraphs summed it up so well that they hardly left anything more to say.

But still...I have long settled with the idea that Takahata will never be appreciated enough, or even given his due, here in Turkey. I think it's because Miyazaki's world is so strongly magical it grabs you in a second, it feels so alive everybody is willing to join the ride. It is easier to connect with, maybe not always on an intellectual level but at least on a visual level (whereas Takahata has more diversed styles in his movies, for which he was criticized time to time-for one, Taeko's more realistic face with wrinkles!). On the other hand, it's easier to miss the subtle but still affectionate, realistic -even in Pom Poko!- details of Takahata movies. Also he-Miyazaki- has the slightest "advantage" of having made more movies than Takahata did recently, which were on theatres in recent years and also being shown on tv periodically here. I'm sure Takahata had never gained that kind of attention and sympathy here, and he probably never will.

I, as a missionary!, lended my copy of Omohide to couple of my friends, who also love to watch anime, even with a guide book of sorts -a script translation I have downloaded from with notes and information on cultural references in the movie, completing the context for us, non-Japanese. Alas, it didn't work the way I hoped it to. I couldn't convert anybody to be a fan of this movie! But I haven't given up entirely, yet.

OK, after tons of ramblings, I can tell -in this case anybody can!- I'm here to say I support you on your claim/cause that this is the greatest animation movie ever made, and I can add it's also one of the greatest movies ever made.

That was a bit long, was it?!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Long is good. Always good. And it's always worth the effort to introduce friends and family to Isao Takahata's great movies. Maybe they'll love them, or maybe they won't understand them, but they will be better persons for the experience. And the influence will be felt for a lifetime.

It's easy to see why Miyazaki's movies would be more popular. They're more adventuresque, owing to his great love of cliffhanger serials. He also absorbed much of Takahata's dramatic style, and his movies have only grown deeper and wider with time. It also helps that Miyazaki is such an intense workaholic. He will surely outlast all of his peers, and most of their children, too.

As far as I'm concerned, it's never an either/or situation, but a both/and situation. There's room for Miyazaki and Takahata in everyone's library. In fact, it's impossible to every fully know one without the other.

Jonathan said...

Yes, this is a fantastically brilliant film. Takahata's films are unmatched in their ability to capture the nuances of human behaviour. I literally cannot help but smile during each of the flashback sequences and the scene during the final credits ALWAYS makes me cry. I can't help it, it's just so damn beautiful.

I'm amazed and saddened that the US audience has, as yet, been denied this film. I recommend importing the Australian Madman release if you can cope with region 4.

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