My 100 favourite films. Entry #18: Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky).



Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (US: Castle in the Sky) (1986)
directed by Hayao Miyazaki
starring Mayumi Tanaka and Keiko Yokozawa
country: Japan
genre: Family / Adventure

Visuals: 9
Writing: 6
Everyday watchability: 6
Number of times Pazu yells Sheeta: around a million

Castle in the Sky is a weird movie. Not weird in the traditional weird movie sense like Tetsuo: Iron Man or pretty much anything starring Peter Weller (Naked Lunch, Buckaroo Banzai). It's weird as in ludicrous. Miyazaki loves the look of things and is seemingly unencumbered by any sort of physical realism. It is an animated film, but in terms of physics reads almost like an action film. Cars can drive on railroad tracks and destroy them as they go along. Explosions look huge but do no real damage or injury. Enormous punches to the gut have absolutely no effect and shirts tear off of rippling muscles like tissue paper.

This, besides the amazing animation, is the basis of Castle's appeal. Viewers don't always want realism. We see reality every time we wake up. We want the ridiculous, the outrageous, the exciting.

Miyazaki has all of that here in spades.

Update (06/26/08): I've been getting a little bit sloppy with these posts. I start out with a bit of a formula and it's sort of gone to pot. That's fine; I'm all with evolution of an idea, but the original idea had some definite merit. So I'm going to fill you in on a bit of the film's plot. It's about a young girl named Sheeta who's a descendant of the Laputa people, and has a special locket which is believed to have great power. The army is trying to get its hands on it to active the eponymous castle, and some air pirates want it for other reasons. Sheeta literally falls thousands of feet into the arms of Pazu, a young boy who must help her escape both pirates and army men.

About the DVD, Disney kind of sucks. I think it's great that they got the American distribution rights so that Americans can actually see this and all of Miyazaki's great films, but I wish they wouldn't have fucked up the DVD so much. Not only did they record a new English language track with current "stars" (James van der Beek and Anna Paquin), but they totally changed the dialog. If you watch the movie with the English track and the original subtitles, it's mismatched for a good 80% of the film. They add "jokes" and Disney flavour to the entire film, which I feel undermines Miyazaki's intentions. They did have the foresight to keep the original Japanese language track, truly the only way to watch the film.

Furthermore, certified douchebag John Lasseter has to give his two cents about the film right before we watch the film. I don't care what you think of it John Lasseter. This isn't TCM and you're not Robert Osborne, so please shut up. We know you were instrumental in the getting these films distributed in America (and poorly re-dubbed), now shut your gob.









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