(Update: This video has since been removed from Youtube. Sorry.)
Isao Takahata's Gauche the Cellist has always been one of my favorites, and I've shown the movie here a couple times before. This time, we are going to watch the Ghibli ga Ippai DVD release, which features new and much better subtitles. The picture and sound quality are also greatly improved from the old Pioneer DVD, which was the version we've seen before.
One of the most generous things Studio Ghibli has done, I think, is to provide excellent English subtitles for their Japanese DVDs. Anyone who imports anime from Japan knows how rare this is, leaving many of us to either learn the language or wait for the fansub community to provide the translations.
Hmm...I'm playing the first clip as I write, and the sound is excellent, truly excellent. It's not something I'd expect to notice, but the music, dialog, and sound effect are so full and vibrant. This is crucial for animation. We think of animation as a visual medium, and while that's obviously true, this form is crucially dependent upon audio. It is the audio that provides our connection to the real world, the world of the actors and musicans. It is the sound effects that pull us into the world of moving pictures and drawings.
As Takahata once observed, all animations are lies. We are gazing upon a series of paintings, and we give them life. We do this through the illusion of motion. And we do this through the illusion of sound. Take away the sound, and the entire piece collapses. Even in the early days of silent cinema, animation depended on the musical cues of the orchestra to give it life.
And never is this more true than in Gauche the Cellist, a movie that weaves famed Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa, rural nostalgia, and Beethoven's Pastorale. Take any of these elements from the film, and you are only left with a collection of watercolor paintings and character sketches. Takahata brings them all together and creates life.
I still have to get the Ghibli ga Ippai Gauche DVD. Perhaps I didn't expect a great improvement over my older Pioneer disc. But this a superb imrovement, and should belong in everybody's collection. This movie also deserves to be released in the Americas. I do wish somebody at Disney would pick up the ball on this one (yeah, please ignore the South Park clips just below, heh heh).