Perfektion: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

I do not think I saw a movie from Studio Ghibli until 2012 or so. Now in retrospect, I can feel that I used to be far too prejudiced and thought, without having seen a second of the films, that ” at least that’s nothing for me ”. But I was wrong. So, so wrong … Because after watching Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, I was completely stuck. So in love. But none of them affected me in the same way as The Tale of the Princess Kaguya that I have since seen about at least once a year.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, which is a Japanese folktale from the 900s. A story that has left historical footprints from the period and riddles left behind where researchers have tried to clarify who the author or authors are. The story is relatively similar to the one we get to see in Isao Takahata’s film and it is in so many ways pure perfection. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is about a tiny girl who is found inside a bamboo tree after he has cut it down and he takes her home and then raises her with his wife. We then get to follow Takenoko, who becomes the girl’s nickname, grow up at a fast pace, which has enormous consequences for everyone involved.

This is a movie that you will be able to discuss with your friends long after you have seen it and where you will discover several details each time you see it.

For history lovers, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a fantastic work that in an exquisite way illustrates people’s way of reasoning from the past, which also includes Japanese culture. But even from a philosophical perspective, it is fantastic to indulge in. Much of the film’s underlying theme, after all, revolves around being human. What does it mean to be human? Is life on earth worth all the tragedy we are exposed to? The questions may sound a bit banal and I think many of us could give fairly simple and direct answers that few would object to. But that’s also what makes me love the movie so terribly much. Because despite all the suffering we encounter … Parents who may wish us a life we ​​do not want, a love that breaks your heart, a loved one who becomes seriously ill … Despite all this, life is so amazing. Is it the case that you do not think about this at all when the afterwords roll, I want to say that you have completely misunderstood the film’s message and not at all understood why this is such a well-preserved story that more than a thousand years later still lives on.

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After seeing the movie for the first time, I was completely taken and immediately decided to see it again as soon as possible. When I saw it for the second time, I still did not feel ready for it. Maybe it was because no movie made me feel so much before? Therefore, I have shown it to several of my closest friends and I have almost sadistically agreed to witness their reactions during the last five minutes of the film that make it impossible to remain silent. Or well, it would be if you become completely speechless. When I showed it to two of my friends, the room was filled with a guttural scream that was highly unpleasant. When I showed it to another friend, he was just screaming ” no, no, no, no, no ” for several seconds. I’ve never seen people get so taken by a movie before. And it has been so amazing to see and given me a receipt of how perfect the film really is.

I have heard people who felt that the film died a bit halfway as it becomes very slow and I can hardly deny that it will be quite slow. However, it is a pity that for many people it has slowly become associated with boredom or something bad. For the tempo in The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, there is at least nothing wrong with it at all. The middle part is slow but also necessary to tell all the little details that later give the end meaning. Life has its slow and, if you will, boring moments and in my opinion you as a viewer can in that case apply this as part of the film’s narrative. The slow middle part of the film has therefore never been a problem for me, but I appreciate it.

Perfektion: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya beautifully shows all the emotions we have ever felt and which show how bad things can feel but also how amazing life can be.

What also makes the film so perfect is the artistic aspect. It is very possible that the film might not have affected me in the same way if it had not been for its style and music. Although much is about the brilliant story, it is not only the one that makes me call The Tale of the Princess Kaguya perfection. When Takahata worked on the film, it was important to him that it was drawn by hand rather than a realistic style. This turned out to be a stroke of genius as each frame is a work of art. This together with the magnificent soundtrack that gives life to the works of art. The mysterious, the playful, the sad, the festive (which is really just awful when you watch the movie) and that melancholic… Everything is there and it is so beautiful that the tears flow uncontrollably.

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In a world where Disney has completely ruled the animated market, I think it’s a shame that Studio Ghibli in many ways has never been allowed to share that spotlight. Recently, Disney has not delivered particularly memorable works (Frozen II, Finding Dory, Raya and the Last Dragon) and I would have more than liked to see Disney take a step back and try to find some inspiration from here. Maybe I’m a little bitter that Röjar-Ralf (do you hear that? Röjar-Ralf!) Won the Oscar for best animated film instead of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya who had to settle for a nomination. I do not know if there is anything that upsets me as much as this. The jury can hardly even have seen the film and if they did, they may not have understood much of it.

Perfektion: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Each frame is truly a work of art that no animated film has ever come close to.

If you have not seen The Tale of the Princess Kaguya yet, I ask you to do so. I get down on my knees, if need be. This is a work of art that far too few people have been able to partake of, which is sad. Admittedly, I can not guarantee that you will feel everything I did. Nor can I guarantee that you will react as my friends did. However, I can guarantee you a two-hour film that is unlike anything you have seen before. If you really like movies, that should be enough to give it a try. And see it for god’s sake in the original language!

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