Fresh off a triumphant opening weekend, the Studio Ghibli Film Festival in Minneapolis devotes Monday and Tuesday to Isao Takahata's Heisei Tanuki Gassan Pom Poko (1994) and My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999). Both films are wildly different in subject matter, in tone, and in visual style. They showcase an animation director's mastery of the form, his skilled sense of tragicomic melodrama, just as they showcase the remarkable artistic brilliance of Studio Ghibli.
It's easy to imagine these Ghibli films as the sole work of one man - that Hayao Miyazaki himself drew every picture, painted every cel. This is only mythmaking, of course; the work of the studio's artists, painters and animators are critically important to bringing these movies to life. And it's doubly true for Takahata, who himself is not an animator. He depends upon his artists to realize his visions. These films are a testament to their skills.
Pom Poko and Yamadas can easily be overlooked in the Ghibli canon, but once you sit down and watch, you are mesmerized, awed. Why don't I watch this movie, or that movie, more often? Why am I not writing more, sharing more? You know the feeling. We are blessed with a bounty of riches. Every one of Takahata and Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films (and I'll also include Yoshifumi Kondo's Mimi/Whisper) can be rightfully called a masterpiece. These two men are the world's greatest living movie directors, and they've earned their title.
daniel thomas Categories: film festivals, my neighbors the yamadas, pom poko, video