Hayao Miyazaki's Thoughts on Pixar's Up

A dedicated reader passed along this Youtube link, a segment from Japanese television showing Hayao Miyazaki welcoming Pete Doctor and Pixar and discussing their latest movie, Up.  The video clip includes subtitles of Miyazaki's comments, but only in Japanese.  I'm sure this will make it easier for someone to translate it into English.

If someone could help out with that, it would be greatly appreciated.  You could either send me an email so I could post it here, or you could just use the comments.


Sachio Cook said...

Miyazaki: I was watching the sad old man's story pretty contently, but could not figure out how they were going to turn this into entertainment - this intrigued me at the beginning.
It (the story) went in the direction that I expected the least, didn't it? Since I have some understanding of the difficulty of creating entertainment, I really understand their challenges. I thought that it must have taken a lot of effort to make the story wrap up like that and bring it to that resolution.

I was satisfied with just the flashback scene. The combination of the flash back with old dreams and new dreams was interesting. At the same time I thought, wow you actually have to do it that powerfully.. which I thought, well that'd be pretty difficult for me now. There's so much work put into even the slightest of cuts!

Narration: Even Director Miyazaki, who has put out so many masterpieces of his own, was very impressed by the Pixar team for their attention to the smallest of details. (This is the shot where the Pixar staff is fixing up the models. The narration goes on to explain that there are details in the flashback scene which allude to what happens in the rest of the movie, and encourages people to go check it out for themselves.)

Miyazaki: Especially the people in the film ... I don't really go much (to America) but when I went to Los Angelos, the people I met there.. The characters in the film all really remind me of those people. In that sense I think this film portrays contemporary America extremely well.
I don't know if the viewers are good [or he might be saying I don't know if I'm a good viewer], because I've become a person who doesn't watch movies anymore, but I thought that there must be a lot of people who enjoyed it.
It shows that people you normally don't expect to be be the main character can be just that.

Pixar: That was one of the pleasures of working on this. (This is the part where the staff talks about the drawing that Pete did of the guy with a lot of balloons and how that worked as inspiration.)

Miyazaki: It's impressive that you were able to start there and develop it all the way.
Since there are so many animations and movies being made these days, it has become so hard to find a fresh inspiration. (Finding one) is the result of a lot of hard work.

The old man's gestures and movements were really good. I liked how it made me feel like my hips hurt just by watching it. Even though it (the character design) had so much deformation - the way you could tell that, this is the hand of an old man, this is the movement of an old man, was superb.

Narration: The Pixar people studied the movements of old people carefully.

Miyazaki: They were kind deformations. By kind I mean that it's sensitive. They're not deformations that are trying to put old people in despair.

Pixar: Grandparents, Indiana Jones, etc.

They talk about how Carl and Miyazaki are similar.
Miyazaki: It's a film that is encouraging and gives energy to old people.

And then it goes into the interview with Lasseter and trailer clips.

Dan Hamman said...

Well it's encouraging to hear that Miyazaki's bothered to watch a Pixar film finally (despite being Lasseter's friend for years, he claimed not to have seen even Toy Story) and even better to hear he allowed himself to enjoy it.

Also, thanks for translating the clip, sachio.

Shika said...

Well, Miyazaki rarely watches any films, not just Pixar. Anyways, it's nice to hear his thoughts, but he must be being a bit kind about his thoughts, because Pixar, for all their talent and no matter how much better than Disney crud they are, still adhere to typical kiddie fare rules. Up started out well, but then got into its textbook villains and talking dog pilots....Pixar may be the best of Western animation, but it's still nothing compared to Miyazaki.

J.R.D.S. said...

And Miyazaki's animated works are nothing much compared to those of UPA in its heyday. Or are something very different at least. (I've clearly realised, actually quite recently, that things tend to be nothing if one judges them on how well they do something that something else does better than them rather than what they do that that other work does not. But on the other hand, if one rates every individual artistic work on how good it is at being itself than everything is a masterpiece…) But though I'm not as familiar with it as I am with the 1950s scene I find it depressing to think that Pixar is singularly "the best of the West" nowadays – in North America alone there's Bill Plympton, Michael Sporn, Co Hoedeman, Christiane Cegavske and others; Bruno Collet, Michel Ocelot, Raoul Servais are some of many significant filmmakers still alive and directing new work in Europe and if one were to include Russia in "the west" (in as much as it being west of East Asia) there'd be seemingly no end to the list.

Shika said...

J.R.D.S. - perhaps it would be more comforting to preface with the word "mainstream". Pixar is the best of mainstream Western animation, and Miyazaki is the best of mainstream Japanese animation. The difference in quality and storytelling is astounding between these two "mainstreams".

Although personally, I am familiar with some of the artists on your list, and the ones I know of, I do not consider equal or superior to Miyazaki (or Takahata). Nor do I agree that Miyazaki's works are inferior to the USA's animation in its heyday.

J.R.D.S. said...

If restricting things to the mainstream as well as contemporary then yes, that makes sense. Sorry, I have such a grudge against the ignorance of short films by today's general public that the industry has worked itself into (which has led to, among other things, almost all, including the most renowned, of UPA's films being locked away in Columbia's vaults, inaccessible to the public through all but YouTube uploads of '80s VHS tapes) that – though I place the blame squarely with the major film studios and television networks rather than the public – I tend to explosively lash out in a stream of director's names at the remotest suggestion of inexperience in the short and/or independent side of filmmaking, despite how unlikely such a reaction is to endear it to someone new to it… Such threads as this have caused me to despair at how many people are caused to have such a blinked experience of a medium that they have a severely short-sighted view of what constitutes alternative or independent and consider experimentation limited to differences in subject rather than also on the layer of the medium itself (for my sanity's sake I presume the recognition in recent years of Kawamoto, Yamamura et al – which even the most intelligent replies in that c 2004 thread fail to mention – by the USA Academy Awards and sites such as Midnight Eye have done much to amend things regarding that particular subject). Though that perhaps tells something: that Japanese animation is open to great experimentation in subject even in it's most mainstream medium of conventionally ink and painted cels and now their digital equivalent. The USA-led western mainstream is dominated now by Pixar-style CGI but even more constrained by conventions of narrative, subject, script; the western model is that deviations in subject are always announced by deviations in medium, in anime medium and subject (not to be confused with style and subject) seem a at least a little more independent of each other.

Pixar films I haven't seen any of for a long time, Toy Story 2 and the short before it the only ones in cinema, as I was put off by the realistic-textures-and-cartoonish-proportions look of the human characters that seemed to be their house style for the next several features in the way I'm put off classical ballet by seeing dancers en pointe. Up I did and would still like to see, to see how far they've come and as both its character design and surface styles are much more appealing to me but its release clashed with the local film festival that OD's me on visual stimuli for at least the whole month. If Selick's Coraline, which I did catch in 3D, is any representation of the best of mainstream American features at the moment I fully sympathise: it's UPA-inflected design and analogue, if digitally composited and touched-up, realisation appeals to me more than those of most any anime, Ghibli included, but it too rarely let a shot go on long enough for me to take in any of that design nor what was happening in it, the result being that I enjoyed it less than those Ghibli films. As for UPA vs. Ghibli: Takahata's and also Frédéric Back's move me more in an emotional way, frequently bringing me to tears, a power I certainly respect and find interesting, while UPA, Norman McLaren and Erica Russell films do more to move me in a physical way, making me want to dance and move as they do, which I find even more enchanting. Miyazaki Hayao's speciality is in yet another category, with something of the Takahata one at times but mostly this overriding sense of adventure, in all the possible meanings of that word.

Unknown said...

I found the opening montage scene of the couple in "up" more moving than anything I've seen in any Miyazaki movie.
Whatever are the nerdy differences in how ghibli and Pixar represent their worlds, there's no doubt that Pixar have a richer sense of humour and more soul in their films.
Miyazaki ones are more mysterious and contain more subtlety, but are no more "adult" than Pixars - Totro, for example, really is kids stuff (unless you believe it's actually based on the Sayama murder story!!) and is very derivative of Alice in wonderland. In fact, Miyazaki borrows more obviously than most animators, there isn't really a culture of innovation in Japan, nor a particular desire for one.

Water_Kirin said...

It's funny for you to talk about "more soul" yet you found the opening montage scene of the couple is already more moving "than anything you've seen in any Miyazaki movie". From here, it's already clear you have no clear idea of what you are talking about, nor you have watched enough Miyazaki movies, moreover your obvious lack of knowledge for the last few sentences of your reply. That couple scene is one of the most basic stuff in cinematography for creating the so-called "moving", that only works for those "mainstream" movie watcher noobs. I don't find it moving at all, I just adore their relationship and that's it. You want to talk about how "adult" a movie is yet you take your typo "Totro" for comparison out of many Miyazaki movies. How ridiculous.

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