Riffs - Heidi, Girl of the Alps

Heidi is the motherlode for Ghibli Freaks, especially once you've seen all of Takahata and Miyazaki's later films.  When I watched the entire series, I tried my best to take notes of all the riffs, and at some point I just lost track.  In nearly every episode of Heidi, at least one shot has been quoted in later work.  We'll see how many of these we can chronicle.

I think I'll start at the beginning and work my way up from there, at least until my old supply of photos is spent.

Episode #1 of Heidi was endlessly mined for riffs.  We've seen some examples here, here, here and here.  And let's not forget where Peter originated from.  Whew!


Here's the next trio of riffs from the pilot episode.  This first one is one of the many brilliant nature shots in the series, a Takahata staple.  The shot of the bees polinating flowers is seen again in episode three of Anne of Green Gables, during that wonderful musical interlude of Anne's wandering imagination across her landscape.

These momentary reflections is one of Heidi's greatest strengths, and allows us to fully enter this world, not merely as escapist fantasy, but as a means of depicting everyday life.  Many of the daily events appear to unfold in real time, and it's that naturalist style that stays with me.  Takahata's documentary realism is the perfect antidote to the endless visual assaults of today's Hollywood movies.  It's enough to make you want to visit the Swiss Alps and run through the hills.


The second riff is probably the highlight of the first episode.  Heidi, who was made to wear her entire wardrobe for the journey to her grandfather's, finally sheds everything and starts running up the mountain with Peter and the goats.  The theme music swells, everyone is laughing, the goats are jumping and hopping about....it's the moment where Takahata, Kotabe, and Miyazaki are most triumphant.

This shot is quoted at the very end of Pom Poko, and it's a similar moment of liberation and celebration.  The tone in Pom Poko is far more tragic, of course (being the story of a native people who are swallowed by the invading culture), but this moment is a happy one.


Our third and final riff also hails from this moment in Heidi.  This is probably the most debatable one, but the shot from Nausicaa, of clothes scattered about the ground, had the same compositional feel as the shot from Heidi.  The spirit and mood are very different between the two, however, so it's a point worth arguing.  I think it's close enough to qualify for the drinking game, so it gets a thumbs-up from me.

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