Thursday, September 25, 2014

Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky ~ When I first saw this movie way back in the late 1980s at Philadelphia's Roxy Screening Room, It was called Laputa: Castle in the Sky. As it's been passed around from different distribution companies with vaious translations and dubs, it's also been known as Island in the Sky, City in the Sky, and Laputa: The Flying Island. I know that I searched for a copy for decades, and was thrilled when Disney finally released it as part of their Studio Ghibli line in 1998. It is my favorite of those films, and my favorite by Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote, directed, and produced it.

The film focuses on a young girl and her new friend running from fascist government spies and military, as well as air pirates, as all pursue a mythical city in the sky called Laputa. As it turns out, she is the long lost princess of Laputa and only her pendant can find the city and release its secrets, which include, not only a treasure, but also a weapon of mass destruction. The legends are pulled from not only Jonathan Swift's book "Gulliver's Travels" but also the Hindu epic "The Ramayana" as well with its Indra's arrow.

The characters are wonderfully Miyazaki originals, coming across like a weird hybrid of both Max Fleisher and "Speed Racer." There is some terrific design work that both conjures a Welsh mining town that Miyazaki once visited, his love of airplanes (as evidenced in The Wind Rises), and a firm foundation in all things steampink. The Goliath and Tiger Moth airships, and the amazing flaptors of Dola's air pirates are excellent examples of that.

I love the chase sequences, and the battling airships. This is a steampunk pulp fan's wet dream, high adventure at its finest. The characters are fun, you can love them, you can hate them, and most of all root for them and fear for them. There are characters in live action 'real' movies that are not as three dimensional as these folks. The Disney dub boasts a voice cast that includes Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Mandy Patinkin, Andy Dick, and absolutely stellar performances by Cloris Leachman as Dola and Mark Hamill as the evil Muska.

I love this film, and it's easily in my top ten or twenty favorite films of all time. If you like anime, or adventure, or steampunk - this is absolutely must see, but really I think everyone will enjoy Castle in the Sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment