Based in Tokyo, the multi-award-winning Studio Ghibli produces exquisite anime, seventeen theatrical features to date. In this series, nine of the fourteen selections showcase the amazing director Hayao Miyazaki and begins Friday, November 30th with his debut feature, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” It also includes his “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Spirited Away,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Castle in the Sky,” “Ponyo,” “Porco Rosso,” and “Princess Mononoke.”
“Ponyo” is among my favorites in its provocative interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” I’m also partial to the beauty of “Princess Mononoke” and its respect for nature in all its diversity. “Spirited Away” immerses the viewer in a fabulous, mythical world when ten-year-old Chichiro gets separated from her parents while visiting a theme park. She finds herself trapped in a bizarre bathhouse populated by monsters and ghosts ruled by the witch Yababa. It’s a vivid nightmare encased in a wildly imaginative world. “Kiki’s Delivery Service” presents a more upbeat story, but it also contains a warning and a lesson for young Kiki. In fact, reminders of true values and depictions of very human failings underpin the films.
This is equally applicable to three of the entries directed by Isao Takahata: “Pom Poko,” “My Neighbors the Yamadas” and “Only Yesterday.” Yoshifumi Kondo’s “Whisper of the Heart” and Hiroyuki Morita’s “The Cat Returns” round out the program. Important themes in all of these include inner strength, integrity, and courage. But never preachy, the films fly along with rich stories, astonishingly detailed animation, and endearing characters devoid of sentimentality. This makes the films as entertaining for adults as for children.
Two of the animated films are in English with the twelve others in Japanese. All are 35 mm prints and screen at Landmark’s Plaza Frontenac Theatre. For the days and times for each film, you may go to landmarktheatres.com