Friday, October 13, 2017

Yume to kyôki no ôkoku/The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013)

Some documentaries are straightforward.  You’re presented with information meant to teach you about a given subject.  Others, not so much.  The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness takes a look behind the scenes Studio Ghibli Primarily, the movie focuses on the production of The Wind Rises, which was Hayao Miyazaki’s most recent attempt at a final film.  (He had previously announced his retirement several times before only to direct another movie.)

Another movie, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, is mentioned, only because it was in production at the same time and was supposed to be released at the same time as The Wind Rises, although The Tale of Princess Kaguya is shown as having too many delays.  Thus, the documentary focuses on The Wind Rises with The Tale of the Princsess Kaguya having a small role.

It starts with a meeting about how merchandising sales and not having released a movie in the previous year.  It shows storyboarding, animating and voicing the movie.  The parts showing the animating didn’t seem to focus on too many people, although you get the impression that there’s a much larger team at work.  Likewise, only the Japanese voice of the movie’s main character is shown.  Those producing the movie knew that they wanted Hideaki Anno to voice Jiro Horikoshi, although they weren’t sure if he’d be available.  No other recording for the voices are even mentioned.

The movie also has segments with Miyazaki talking about things like the Fukushima disaster.  In one scene, he responds to a letter from someone and talks about his father.  Other parts of the movie cover the history of Studio Ghibli, as well as Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata.

It comes across almost like a bonus feature for The Wind Rises, as there is a lot of behind-the-scenes footage.  This doesn’t mean that you have to have seen The Wind Rises.  If you’re a fan of any of the studio‘s movies,  you’ll want to watch this movie.

My mother once asked me if knowing more about a movie takes away from the enjoyment.  I have been known to watch the bonus features when I have a chance and will also read the trivia section on IMDb.  I don’t think this would take away from watching The Wind Rises at all.  Since you get to see some of Miyazaki’s opinions on certain topics, it does give you insight in to his personality.  It might affect your opinion of him as a person, but it didn’t affect my ability to watch his films in the future.

It is worth noting The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness doesn’t have many heavy spoilers, although some information about the movie is mentioned.  You see scenes from the movie being voiced and animated.  I don’t think there would be enough to ruin the movie nor does there seem to be any assumption as to whether or not the viewer has already seen it.

People unfamiliar with animation and Studio Ghibli probably won’t get as much out of this.  In fact, I could almost see the documentary being used for a class on animation.  We sometimes think of studios and directors being something mythical and we can forget that actual people are involved in the making of a movie.  There’s also the business side of movies.  Merchandising can bring in a lot of revenue.  (There’s a reason lunch boxes were so popular in the 1980s.)  If you’re interested in Studio Ghibli, I’d watch this documentary.

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