The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Year: 2019
 Isao Takahata
Rating: 9.0

I have such a distaste for the look of modern American animation that I rarely bother to see one. It just looks so computer generated and dull to me with little artistic value - though admittedly the stories and dialogue can be quite good. But there is no beauty, no moments of rapture, no artistic pride - just fodder for the multiplex. But outside of America there are still some astonishing animated features being made - Loving Vincent was imaginative and stunning and this film from the great Studio Ghibli will make your eyes pop and swell up with its beautifully hand-painted drawings. It took many years to make and that can be seen in the wonderful detail and creative rush. I have never seen anything like this. It is at times transcendent in its beauty. It is created by the co-founder of the studio, Isao Takahata, his first work in 14 years.

It is based on an old 10th century Japanese folktale called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter that I suppose can be interpreted many ways. For me it was about birth, life passing quickly by, the disappointments, the love of parents and death - in this case reincarnation. There is no escape from it no matter how low or high in the world you are. There is if looked at from a distance a deep sadness about its inevitability and the loss of everything you were, everything you did, everything you remember when it is over.

An elderly bamboo woodcutter finds a baby girl in a bamboo stalk and he and his wife take in the baby and raise it as their own. Later on the man also discovers sheathes of gold in the bamboo and takes this as a sign that his little girl should be raised as a Princess in the city with all the amenities and training of a proper Princess. She misses her friends and the purity of nature and a slow darkness begins to envelop the film. It is profoundly sad at times.

At over 2 hours it probably is too long for children and the story will make them want to go home and cut their wrists - so this is not for them.