Another animator who has captured my attention is Tomm Moore. His work was recommended to me by my youngest daughter, Heather Irene Jones, who is a professional artist, living in Brooklyn, New York. This week, I will comment on Song of the Sea, his tale of a selkie and her role in restoring her family as well as the spiritual world. The concept behind the animation is advanced: frames drawn by hand with a childlike quality yet superior technique. It is very abstract, and I honestly saw methods of presentation I had never before seen on a screen. Also, the individual characters hover between a two-dimensional and three-dimensional quality while the overall scenes retain a very definite sense of visual depth. Finally, the choice of colors beautifully fits the theme and the plot, turning warmer and brighter during and after what I like to call the restoration sequence.
It is this sequence that moved me the most, which I imagine was the director’s intention. Characters that seemed comical and at least a bit hapless became nobler and more dignified while remaining identifiable, and the imagery provided an understated and spiritual abstraction. This scene also makes some endearing allusions to the significance of family and the restoration of character and relationships. Next week: a look at Tomm Moore’s other feature length animation.
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 BambooCutter. 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.
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.