Isao Takahata (one of the co-founders of Studio Ghibli) directs an animated film, his first in 14 years, in brilliant fashion. This is the story of an old Japanese folk tale, that is brought to life with one snapshot after another, in breathtaking beauty.
The artwork is minimalist, but the minimalism is versatile. As you take a look at the first few shots of the film, there is a bamboo cutter, stationed in a forest, busy with his craft, when a great light descends infront of him, to sprout a maiden from the plant.
The young girl is taken in by the farmer’s family and named “Li’l Bamboo”. She grows up fast, and is transfixed by the environment, by nature, When the farmer is blessed with a flourish of gold from the heavens all of a sudden, he sets forth to transform his dream of making his adoptive daughter into a princess.
She is renamed Kaguya, and numerous suitors, from far and wide, visit the new princess in her castle, asking for her hand. There is also a shock in the film, when Kaguya discovers her origins but before that happens, you have to let the concept of the film take you in its stride.
The script is certainly intense, as some of the lines that are sputtered by the leads are not only interesting, they are instrumental in conveying the story in a narrative painterly form. Where that particular painterly form is concerned, the brushstrokes are of watercolour, mixed with pastels, and the strokes can prove to be both emotional and sensitive, at the same time.
This is because the animated frame has layers of depth, that make the story, the concept, beautiful to watch come alive, visually. The narrative is poignant too, if you catch the Japanese edition, in its cherry blossom-rural paradise.
Film rating: 9/10.