Journey to the Centre of the Earthsea.

Well, maybe just the outskirts. Not speaking the language, I had a hard time following the movie but as a visual experience, I was duly impressed. ゲド戦記 (Gedo Senki OR Ged's War Chronicles) or Tales from the Earthsea includes: clouds that float, water that ripples, grass that rustles, smoke that billows. And the lushness and variety of colours was immense, as though he chewed up a box of Crayolas and spat them on the screen.

To make a long story short (actually I plan to ramble incessently), I loved it. The first-time director is Goro Miyazaki (son of Hiyao of Ghibli fame) and I can't wait to see what he does in the future. With several villains and villagers as composites of characters from earlier films plus 4 truly brilliant lead protaganists and a VERY spooky witch, I can honestly say that this is on a par with his papa's work.

SPOILER ALERT: There is not a single "Talking CG Animal" to be found anywhere in the movie. This is a very good thing. I understand that Disney has picked up the rights to distribute this and if they don't sanitize it and give it big Hollywood star vocalizations (although Christopher Lee would be great as Ged the Wizard), it may stand a chance of taking the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. (Look at the competition, a whole lot of CG creature features.)

The critical take on this flick is less than glowing, but it did take over 900 million yen in its first weekend and still rules the Japanese box office, supplanting Pirates. If the crowd I saw it with is anything to go by, they all seemed enrapt by it. It was "Men's Day", so that men get in for 1,000 instead of 1,800 yen, and I was a little leery that the dozen young punks who came in would destroy the picture for the rest of us. Nary a peep from them! I understand that in earlier showings, kids would cry and people walked out, well...Newsflash: IT'S NOT FOR KIDDIES! It was genuinely spooky at times and about the only sentimentality throughout the picture was the movie's theme song, "Song of Therru" sung by Aoi Teshima. (Very pretty, but I preferred the theme from Sento no Chihiro/Spirited Away.)

I really want to see this again (preferably with subtitles) and will try and check out the source material by Ursula K. LeGuin. (Who by the way has this to say about the movie...When asked about her impression of the movie, with a warm smiling face she answered shortly "It is not my book. It is your film. It is a good film." )

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