Addio Commentary: The Studio Ghibli Resurgence

Addio Commentary is a column used to focus on the underrated and misunderstood.  So, why am I using it to showcase Studio Ghibli’s timeless collection of widely-acclaimed films?

The work of Studio Ghibli’s visionary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has always been referenced when discussing classic animation or coming-of-age stories.  Miyazaki, who has won various awards for his work including an Oscar and the Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Berlin Bear, should be a household name.  However, casual movie goers I’ve talked to draw a blank on Miyazaki;  even when I directly reference his more well-known films – this shouldn’t be happening.  Luckily, a number of Studio Ghibli films are experiencing a special resurgence – both at home and in theatres.

Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke received new Blu-ray/DVD treatments in October, with Castle in the Sky and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind closing out the month, and Porco Rosso anticipating a November street date.  The re-releases feature gorgeous transfers of the filmmaker’s wondrous animation.  The magical world of Ponyo basks in beauty as its colourful underwater scenery collides with a treacherous storm happening on land.  A similar fusion happens with Spirited Away as young Chihiro is enchanted by a mystical world of spirits and demons that soon overtakes her perception of reality.  Studio Ghibli fans will surely double-dip on these discs to check out new and exclusive special features, including 8-12 page booklets and other never-before-seen insight on the films.  I, personally, look forward to exploring the Behind the Microphone features in hopes that the spotty North American stunt casting is explained more throughly.

Even though these home release titles will provide more opportunities for audiences to brush up on these classics, Cineplex has also served as a host for big-screen viewings of Studio Ghibli content with dubbed and subtitled screenings.  This past season, Cineplex has screened Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but audiences still have a chance to watch Howl’s Moving Castle (December 3 and December 9 matinees – check your local listings).

While Miyazaki’s work featured hopeful stories of innocent heroes experiencing personal arcs during mature situations, he always finds a way to subtlety incorporate environmental awareness.  His messages range from literally referencing nature and pollution, to acknowledging the history of lives that once inhabited special places.  These films are beautiful and thoughtful reminders, and they should be cherished for generations.  If you don’t know Studio Ghibli, get to know them.

The DVD/Blu-ray combo packs of Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind are now available to purchase.  The Secret World of Arrietty and Porco Rosso hit shelves on Tuesday, November 21.


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