Fade to Lack Reviews Horus, Prince of the Sun DVD

Fade to Lack author Johnathan Lack recently profiled the Horus, Prince of the Sun DVD, and gave it a glowing review. He definitely has a solid grasp on this revolutionary anime film and the hard work of Isao Takahata and company.

A couple excerpts from his lengthy review:

I had heard of the film many times before, a constant fixture in research I have done on Takahata and Miyazaki; yet until Discotek’s recent DVD release – which arrived at the tail-end of 2014, with minimal attention or fanfare – I had never had the chance to see it, for this is the first time Horus has been made commercially available in the United States. It is a cause for immense celebration. This is a jaw-dropping film, a stunning work of radical power and unbridled cinematic passion that remains a wonder to behold 46 years after its theatrical release. To watch it is to see the history of modern anime unfold; all the potential of Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, and the industry as a whole is contained within Horus’ brief yet dense 82 minutes, and now that I have seen it, it is clear to me that no appraisal of either man’s careers, let alone the last five decades of Japanese animation, can be undertaken without seeing and discussing Horus. It is that sort of milestone, and to finally see it is like uncovering a long-buried treasure.
I am, again, amazed to consider that Takahata and his team got away with any of this. Horus was a statement, an announcement of a wide swath of major talents working tirelessly to prove themselves. Everything about the film’s existence amazes me – that it was directed and created by such young, untested artists; that it pushed boundaries as far it did, in as many ways as it did, at the time it was made; and of course, that those responsible for its creation would only go on to improve from here, building on this foundation to do nothing less than transform the face of cinema. This is a film we should speak of in the same tones as the initial works of the French New Wave, or of Italian Neorealism, or any other major paradigm shift in the history of world cinema. Like those works, Horus took what previously existed and redefined ‘convention’ in so many different ways; it was the start of something big, and stands as an essential cinematic text.
Lack also singles out praises for the Horus bonus features, for which I say on behalf of everyone involved, thank you for the kind words:
This top-notch presentation of the film itself would of course be enough – especially for such a reasonably priced release – but the supplemental package Discotek has curated is an embarrassment of riches, especially when compared with most other anime home video releases. Two full audio commentaries are provided, both well-researched from knowledgeable enthusiasts; the second may not be a recording of professional quality, but the content is great nevertheless. There are two video interviews, one with animator Yoichi Kotabe, a major figure from this era who shares excellent insight into the creation of Horus, and one with director Isao Takahata, which is a rare, supremely informative treat indeed. To hear him talk about the turmoil that went into making the film, or discuss in such depth the inspirations he took from other films and movements around the world, is a joy, and I am ecstatic that Discotek uncovered and translated the conversation.
The author does point out a number of editing and typing errors in my texts, and for that I must fully confess. I did notice that while watching the Horus DVD. Another quick editing pass would have helped, no doubt. But in my defense, I was working furiously around the clock, literally working until the final hour (my audio commentary tracks were finished just after 4:00am deadline day). My brain was thoroughly fried by that point. Let that be a lesson for all writers: no matter how good you are, you'll still need a good editor on call.
An excellent review, and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more. When are the reviews coming? I sent out press releases and made many email inquiries. The guilty parties know who they us your Horus reviews!


Anonymous said...

Great review. I definitely agree that Horus is an essential cinematic text.

Natalie Belton said...

I ordered my DVD a while back and plan on reviewing it either by the end of this month or the beginning of the next. I can let you know when I post if you like. :P

But yeah, recommending Horus too many contemporary American anime fans is hards. Heck it's even hard to show it die hard Ghibli fans because some of them fear that it looks 'too old' or dated for their tastes. (Then again, I met someone who actually thought Miyazaki's and Takahada's art style was too old. I don't get these sort of people.)

A good film is a good film. It should hold up regardless of age, especially if it as something as influential as Horus. People should be more willing to forgive a few things due to the technology of the time and a few budget issues.

Anonymous said...

There is a prejudice against older films in general. God forbid you watch something made before Star Wars, or, gasp, a film in black and white.

I've recommended Horus to several of my friends and some are interested despite it's being made in the 60s. I'm hoping to spread the word about the new DVD. These older works from Takahata and Miyazaki need more critical attention here; there's more than just Ghibli and all of it is fascinating.

Jonathan Walmsley said...

I loved how in Isao Takahata's latest (and possibly last) film 'Princess Kaguya' he references Horus (his first film) when Kaguya falls in the snow much like Hilda does in her seminal moment of the film. Takahata is a mixed bag for me overall but there's no doubt he understands the power of visual symbolism to reflect characters psychologies.

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