Thus far, this has been a week of celebrating the birthdays of some of my favourite men – first Tolkien, and now Hayao Miyazaki, who is still alive, and is 75 today! Thanks to the Glasgow-Edinburgh chapter of Geek Girls Brunch for bringing this to my attention on Facebook this morning!
The first of his films that I saw was Princess Mononoke, in 2001; I had actively sought it out once I discovered that Neil Gaiman did some work on the script for the English-language version, and that Claire Danes was voicing San. It’s a beautiful film, with a great story, and I’ll mention only in passing here the similarity I see between the tree spirits in particular and Edward Burne-Jones’ figures in his illustrations to The Fairy Family: a series of ballads and metrical tales illustrating the fairy mythology of Europe, written by Archibald MacLaren, Burne-Jones’ fencing master, and published in 1857 by Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts. It’s the large eyes, I think; see if you agree by looking at the images below:
I’ve since seen several more of his films, but by no means all. If only I weren’t working later today, as this is the perfect day for a Miyazaki Marathon (anybody have thoughts on a related drinking game, or something akin to the Rocky Horror Picture Show audience participation game?). A conversation for another time…
I will always have a soft spot for Princess Mononoke as my first Miyazaki, but I am now torn between My Neighbour Totoro (1988) and Kiki’s Delivery Service when it comes to choosing a favourite. The former almost certainly wins, but there are so many still to see. While Miyazaki himself has now retired, his son Gorō is now a filmmaker, and has produced two films, Tales of Earthsea, based on Ursula Le Guin’s novels set in Earthsea, and From Up on Poppy Hill, neither of which I have yet seen. Would any readers recommend them?
If you’re a fan of Miyazaki, père and/or fils, let me know in the comments what your favourite film is, and what you’ll be doing today to celebrate Hayao Miyazaki’s birthday! I think I’ll be watching Porco Rosso for the first time, once I get back from work.
I’ve seen quite the variety of merchandise for My Neighbour Totoro in particular, and couldn’t resist ending this post with a photo of the most striking example:
I took the above photo in Rennes, France, during my two weeks of travels round Brittany and Normandy in May 2014. The shop sold Totoros in every size imaginable (and in many forms), and I’m still quite sad I didn’t buy the rucksack. But I have lived quite contentedly without the stockings.