The Films of Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, is known best for his magnificently plotted and stunning anime films. The Japanese auteur has developed a huge following amongst anime and cinema aficionados throughout the world. All his works touch on recurrent themes, which explore man’s relationship with technology, with the natural world, and with the nature of good and evil. His protagonists are often strong willed girls or young women, while the villains are morally ambivalent. Miyazaki’s films are great for the entire family. The gorgeous and lush visual animation, beautifully executed in each of his films, makes for the perfect family evening spent in front of your HD TV. Hayao Miyazaki’s films are not to be missed, especially when viewed in high definition.

Nausica of the Valley of the Wind: This is an adventure film, which recounts the tale of a civilization destroyed by war and pollution. Based on a manga series of the same name, Nausicaa marks Miyazaki’s first work as both writer and director.

Kiki’s Delivery Service: In this movie, Kiki, a young witch living in a quaint rural town, must head off on her own to become a full-fledged witch. She sets up a delivery service in a far off town, taking advantage of her broomstick abilities; all the while, she has to contend with loneliness, homesickness and the uncertainties of living in a new town far from her family.

My Neighbor Totoro: Totoro is a forest spirit befriended by two sisters, whose father, a university professor, has moved the family to a rural town to be closer to his wife who is recovering from an illness. Critics have described the film as delightful and visually handsome, whose charms can only really be appreciated in high definition.

Porco Rosso: This film marks a departure for Miyazaki as the main character is an adult male anti-fascist pig that sports a white aviator’s scarf. This is one of the director’s few movies in which there is an actual historical backdrop-Italy between the wars.

Princess Mononoke: Released in 1997, this movie reflects the same ecological themes that we saw in Nausicaa. The film is set in the Muromachi period of Japan during which a struggle between supernatural forest guardians and humans who are destroying the forest takes place.

Spirited Away: Probably Miyazaki’s most well known and most popular film, Spirited Away is the story of a young girl who is forced to work in a bathhouse patronized by strange spirits. Her parents have been transformed into pigs by the sorceress who owns the bathhouse and she must work to gain their freedom. The film became Japan’s highest grossing film. Its popularity spread to the West, where it continues to be broadcast on cable and satellite TV.

Howl’s Moving Castle: Although based on Diana Wynn Jones’ novel of the same name, Howl makes significant departures from the book. Miyazaki inserts his own familiar themes such as airships, non-human or spirit companions, nature, and redemption. For the most part, Howl has received accolades for its fantastical portrayal of a young girl’s magical adventures.

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