Everything We Know About Hayao Miyazaki’s New Film

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Category Culture, Lifestyle, Town
Date November 9 2023
Reading Time 3 min.

Everything We Know About Hayao Miyazaki’s New Film

Earlier this year Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator with cult status and the creator of such anime classics as “My Neighbour Totoro” and “Spirited Away”, has released a new feature film “The Boy and the Heron”. The film has already been screened in Japan and South Korea and is set to reach Western cinemas later this winter.

There is an interesting fact about the film’s marketing strategy – there was none at all. Studio Ghibli expected the film to be a massive box office success and didn’t release an official trailer or use any promotional material to accompany its release. Such an unprecedented move created an enigmatic vibe around “The Boy and the Heron”. However, this mystery only adds to the excitement experienced by the fans anticipating its official release in the UK on December 26.

The film stayed in production for almost a decade, with every minute of “The Boy and the Heron” having taken a month to make. By having drawn every frame by hand and having been helped by 60 animators working at Studio Ghibli on this project, Miyazaki managed to create another one in a row of his famous magical worlds that fascinate with their detail and beauty.

Although Miyazaki started working on the film in 2016, “The Boy and the Heron ” is a picture that speaks to our time and touches on the subjects of loss and war, and their effect on humanity. According to the artist himself, the film is his bequest to the youth. In the light of the current geopolitical situation in the world, the film is perceived as a topical, almost philosophical piece of art that warns future generations of the consequences that militaristic sympathies might have.

The war that the protagonist, Mahito, cannot escape in his adventures in the magical “underworld”, becomes the driving force of the film. In the real world, in the war-torn Japan of 1943, Mahito loses his mother and has to leave Tokyo with the rest of his family. In the quiet Japanese countryside Mahito meets the mysterious Grey Heron and follows him into the underworld, where he expects to find his deceased mother. As he explores the underworld, Mahito meets many of its magical inhabitants, with some of them being evil and cruel, and meant to portray the true ugliness of the war and its inhumane and detrimental effect on people.

In “The Boy and the Heron ” Miyazaki manages to create a deep and eerily realistic portrayal of war and its effects on humanity, and in many ways the picture is autobiographical. The boy Mahito represents the director in his youth, whose childhood was marked with the horrors of World War II. Roughly based on the the 1937 novel “How Do You Live?” by Genzaburō Yoshino, the film explores the philosophical and emotional development of a young boy who encounters a variety of mythical creatures and powerful evil forces that teach him to make choices that even adults can hardly face.

While the tragic relevance of “The Boy and the Heron” definitely reminds one of Miyazaki’s “The Grave of the Fireflies” with its soul-touching and devastating atmosphere, the new film doesn’t seem as depressing or dark. On the contrary, with the use of vivid animation and complex philosophical dialogues the director creates a world that has hope and future. Here everything depends on the choice that every human or creature makes.

The emphasis on the importance of choices that we make is not new for Miyazaki. The artist emphasizes this idea in “The Boy and the Heron” to remind us once again that we are responsible for our future and the future of the world we live in. When the time comes to decide what this future will be like we have to make the right choice. Though it is set in the 1940s, Miyazaki’s poignant masterpiece perfectly illustrates the worrying reality of the 20s and will definitely leave an impact on viewers of all  ages.



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