Kaguyahime no monogatari
Director: Isao Takahata
Writer: Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi
Based on: The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Cast: Aki Asakura, Kengo Kôra, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Review by cornholio.]
One day a bamboo cutter (Takeo Chii) finds a little girl inside one of the bamboos. He takes her home to his wife (Nobuko Miyamoto) where the little girl – Kaguya (Aki Asakura) – turns into a fast growing baby that they bring up with lots of love. The old man is convinced that Kaguya is a princess and should be brought up as one, while Kaguya enjoys running around with the local kids. When the old man finds gold in one of the bamboos, he decides to go to the city and build a new home for Kaguya, one that reflects her rank.
For almost two hours, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a sweet fairy tale which is then followed by 15 minutes of utter sadness that I did not foresee at all.
I do like sad things, but I also like the sadness to be foreshadowed and that was missing for me here. The ending was completely abrupt – after the rather humorous deflection of the men trying to marry Kaguya, it was like a sudden cold shower. If it had been announced a bit more, I think that I would have been able to go with it more than I could.
But that was not the only thing that kept me from really going with the film. There was also the fact that despite the film’s length, it seems to skip over some rather important parts, especially in the relationship between Kaguya and her parents. I just didn’t feel the depth of the connection between them. I was also less than convinced by the tragic lovestory between Kaguya and Sutemaru. So I should be sad that he doesn’t get to leave his wife and child to be with her? Uhhhmmmm…
But other than that there was lots to love about the film. The drawing style looks like they didn’t quite finished drawing, like they were working with sketches but somehow that minimalism creates a unique atmosphere that is very fitting for the film and the story. And the beautiful music does its own part to support that wonderful atmosphere. Especially in the scene where Kaguya runs away that all works perfectly and it was breathtaking.
The story was told with a lot of warmth and sense of humor which I liked. And since I’m generally a sucker for fairy tales, I really enjoyed the film for the most part, despite its weaknesses.