The Tale of The Princess Kaguya Blu-ray Review
Animated films can take you to places never seen before. They can do things that live action films are prevented from doing. They can also touch you in ways that you never knew possible. Great animated films do all this and more. THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA is indeed a great film that is magical to watch and a joy to behold.
This is the first solo film by Isao Takahata in over a decade for his legendary film studio Studio Ghibil. This was years in the making and could possibly be Takahata’s last film. He co-wrote the movie based on an ancient Japanese folk tale. The movie was first done with Japanese actors and later done with an English dub.
A bamboo cutter (James Caan) is toiling away doing what he does when he comes upon a glowing bamboo shoot. It opens up to reveal a tiny being. The bamboo cutter thinks this is divine intervention at work. He takes the tiny being to his wife (Mary Steenburgen). The tiny thing grows into a baby. They both then knew there was more to work here than normal circumstances.
Takahata shows the child learn how to walk and discover what nature has in store. She has a funny scene where she watches frogs hop around. She imitates the frogs and falls from her home. This leads to her walking for the first time. The child grows at a rapid pace and gets the nickname “Little Bamboo” from the local kids in the area. She develops a strong relationship to the boy Sutemaru (Darren Criss). He looks after her as she bounds with enthusiasm with all that is around her. She is happy in this rural area where the people live off the land and live quite simply.
The bamboo cutter has different ideas for his little girl. He discovers gold and fine cloth in the same bamboo grove that he found the child. He interprets this as a sign that she was made for bigger and better things than the simple trappings that she is in. He moves the family to the capital to a large mansion, so she can live as a princess as intended. He hires Lady Sagami (Lucy Liu) to teach her how to be a noble lady. This includes plucking her eyebrows and not having white teeth. She also gets a new name Princess Kaguya (Chloe Grace Moretz) by Inbe no Akita (George Segal).
Princess Kaguya is restless in her surroundings. She rebels quite often. At her naming ceremony, she runs away with fury she hears people disparaging her and her father. She finds out her friends are no longer there and have moved on to another area.
The money and prestige gets to the Bamboo cutter’s head. He does not look out for his daughter as he should and only seems interested in how things are perceived. Five suitors fight for her hand and she gives them nearly impossible tasks to win her over. This leads to deceit, cowardice, lying and one death. The Emperor (Dean Cain) himself takes notice of this young woman that everyone is talking about. The Princess and The Emperor are not a good match to put it bluntly. All of this attention is almost too much for the Princess to take.
Takahata does a wonderful job weaving in issues of honor and being true to your heart. The Princess got taken from her childhood home with no input from her on how she would feel about that. There is a good lesson on being careful what you wish for. The Princess was happy when having very little, but miserable when she had everything at her beck and call.
I was amazed at the colors and the movements on display here. I loved it when the Princess would start running and it showed her passion and mood in the animation. There were many instances of this. There is just a joy to be had and you get caught up in it. A dream sequence is especially a visual feast for the eyes. The Princess and Sutemaru go on a magical ride on what might have been. There is sadness when it is over that no one really got what they desired. Their lives were forced upon them.
The last part of the film will affect you in a way that is profound. So many emotions will be felt and experienced. THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA is an animated film that goes beyond those simple trappings. It tells a tale that can be related to in any format.
Video: The film looks so great in this format. The colors jump off the screen.
Audio: The sound is solid.
Announcement of Completion of the Film (40:09): The Japanese actors and studio executives gather in a panel situation.
Isao Takahata and His Tale of The Princess Kaguya (1:25:29): Remarkable documentary on the making of the film. You get to see all aspects of the filmmaking process. You also see some background on the director himself.