As if being able to meet Miyazaki isn’t enough, we all got invited to a free screening of Ponyo On The Cliff. The only catch being that you do have to rush there and wait in line for the screening. There were only 200 seats available and I was lucky enough to be among those. Miyazaki introduced the movie and had quite a few things to say.
Miyazaki told us that an important instruction he gave for the staff was that “Draw things as simple as you can but draw as many things as you want. Don’t feel limited.”
Within the hands of such a talented team, led by such a focused director as Miyazaki himself, these words brought about very impressive results. The drawings are all very masterfully executed; they become economical and effective instead of being compromised by this instruction. Instead of arbitrary renderings, each line conveyed the maximal and there is practically no excess. Everything was crisp, clean and precise. These were very smooth animation, full of subtle touches of life and weight. The colors were gorgeous to behold, never overwhelming, always calming yet exciting.
Miyazaki also said that they used close to no computer assistance for the visuals of Ponyo, he stated that in today’s age, he has noticed that the computer is slowly taking over, that people are no longer using pencils or brushes to draw. He said that it was a conscious and active decision to avoid 3d animation or computer-assisted graphics even more because of this trend, adding the statement that the computer has the ability to creep and take over an artist’s mind… and ruin it. Thunderous applause was heard after he finished this statement.
I’ll be upfront with you, this is one of my favorite Ghibli films already because of several strong vices of mine they fed generously: hand-drawn frames, endearing attention to relationships, strong focus on creation themes, myth & theories and just breathtaking situations. The visuals are warm, inviting and yes, breathtaking. Literally breathtaking because I’m an absolute nut about underwater sceneries and there hasn’t exactly been an animated film feature to live up to my expectations for underwater sceneries.
The backgrounds throughout the entire film shows signs of a loving, human touch. I watched this on the big screen and I was able to see the pencil strokes, color pencil hatchings, watercolor marks, and soft brush strokes lovingly communicating the mood, the air and the feel of the charming little town our male protagonist, Sasuke lives in. When I said breathtaking, I’m not joking; the scenes where Sasuke held his breath and peeked into the water, I couldn’t help holding my breath instinctively… hoping I’d also be in peeking into such a rich world. I won’t spoil the rest of these many breathtaking moments Hayao Miyazaki and his team have provided us.
Those expecting an “epic adventure” Princess Mononoke or Castle In The Sky, you should know that this is a lot calmer and low-key in action but nowhere less captivating. It’s just as immense and dense in just how much symbolism is packed into the movie. To be honest, I’m quite happy I’m no longer a kid when I saw this and that I was able to take in most of the symbolisms. This film would still be a great one to take young audiences to because it’s attention to the little things in life are what fascinate kids: discovering how things work for the first time, absorbing/digesting/rejecting the behavior of your elders, learning new words to attach to things one loves and dislikes, a clear love/respect/fear for nature & the impossible.
It’s instinctively interesting to a kid and rich in feeling to an adult who’ve had treasured their childhood in simple joys.
There is a rich, rich, rich attention to old creation mythologies, sea tales and particularly to the concept & traits of fertility goddesses and fatherly deity figures, the visual theorized stages of evolution is shown through Ponyo’s very own transformations. Those familiar with ancient fishes and ancestors of life as science knows it will be in for a treat. All this tied into the relationship parents, children and a close-knit society could have… with the heartwarming story Ponyo shares with Sasuke. It’s a great, full circle… drawn beautifully by hand. It was of great joy for me to follow Sasuke through his day and meet the people he spends time with regularly; no matter how much or minute that time is.
Ponyo’s an immensely beautiful film, in the hands of any other directors, it would be a plain, simple film but in the capable hands of Miyazaki this was a pure and perfect film. To sum it up, Miyazaki said one of the best praises he heard about the movie was that when a 5 year old called her grandmother and told her that “Grandma, I’ve just watched a movie made by another 5 year old!”
I absolutely loved this film and to have been able to enjoy it with added personal notes by the director beforehand added up to be a very fine friday.