3000 Leagues in Search of Mother - Lobby Card

 This is an item that is currently available for sale on Ebay.  It's a lobby card for a theatrical release of 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, Isao Takahata's 1976 World Masterpiece Theatre production.  This was actually a condensed version of the television series - a highlight reel, essentially.  Similar theatrical adaptations were used for other anime series, including 1974's Heidi, Girl of the Alps.  This lobby card, in particular, was for a release in Mexico - hence the international title, "Marco."

This is of interest to us today, because Studio Ghibli is bringing 1979's Anne of Green Gables in a similar fashion - adapted and assembled by Isao Takahata himself.  It's very interesting to note that neither Takahata, nor Hayao Miyazaki or Yoichi Kotabe, the other key creators, were involved in the "movie" versions of Heidi and Marco.  And they were openly critical and disdainful of them.  Such a short collection of scenes could never substitute for the epic weight and melodrama that required 52 episodes to tell.

Why is this different for Anne in 2010?  That's a very good question, and it's left me puzzled for a long time.  But I have a couple theories, which I'll have to share at a better time.

As for Marco, I've never found a copy of the "theatre" version, but a full-length movie adaptation was produced in 1999.  It was very faithful to Takahata's original masterpiece, but as you would expect, it had to rush through everything as quickly as possible, losing so much of the drama in the process.  As a tribute, it was nice.  But it was very clearly inferior to the series.  Perhaps this is why Anne of Green Gables 2010 will only cover that series' first four episodes?

I will close by stating, once again, that it is my firm conviction that Heidi-Marco-Anne remain Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki's masterpieces.  Studio Ghibli movies are like perfectly contained short stories.  But these are the epic novels.


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