Tag Archives: Isao Takahata

Animated Mythology (Part 4)

Still shot from The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, 2013.
Still shot from The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, 2013.

Another animation from Studio Ghibli that I would like to feature is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata. This is a reasonably faithful adaptation a real Japanese folktale titled The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The artwork is wonderfully impressionistic and very emotional in tone. Okay, my wife didn’t like it that much because of its bittersweet ending, but there were a number of qualities that impressed me. These included insightful implications about how women are treated, the insincerity of high society, and the happiness and virtue associated with a simpler life spent close to nature and community.

Still shot from The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, 2013.
Still shot from The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, 2013.

But what particularly grabbed me was the scene with the “moon people” near the end. These eerily beautiful beings represent an inexorable supernatural force which is unaffected by the schemes of the human race. The imagery of this scene was adapted from actual Japanese folk art and was indeed striking, with the effect being magnified by the subtle yet powerful soundtrack music. For those who have been following my blog, it is by now obvious that I have a particular interest in artistic depictions of the spiritual. It is what fills the shells of factual knowledge, giving it warmth and depth. Without this perspective and this sense of life, the universe can feel hollow.