Sunday, 14 April 2013

Laputa, Castle In the Sky (1986) - ★★★★½

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman

Laputa is the second film ever made by Studio Ghibli and is one of the most magical adventures they’ve ever created. It’s a beautiful animated film that pleases both adults and children. For a film made in 1986, the quality of animation throughout is extraordinary. While it isn’t flawless, it is still one of the very best creations from the masterful mind of Hayao Miyazaki.

Everything in the film revolves around a floating castle in the sky named Laputa. The main character is Shita (Anna Paquin), a little girl who possesses an ominous crystal with the power to make her float to safety. After she escapes being captured by a strange man who seeks the crystal, she floats down safely into the arms of a young man named Patsu (James Van Der Beek). Together, they run from pirates, the army, and all sorts of strange people. Only one thing is certain: they are all seeking the path to Laputa and whatever secrets and treasures lies within.

One thing that instantly stands out in this film is the magnificent score by Joe Hisaishi. He has made some marvellous music for Studio Ghibli. Laputa stands up there as one of his very best. It sets the tone of the film and really brings emotion into the story. The animation is also breathtaking, considering the time the film was made. It may not stand up to the standards of today’s animation, but its beauty is still something to behold.

Cloris Leachman was the standout among the voice actors. She was fantastic as ‘Dola’, the leader of the pirates. There are many amazing characters throughout the Studio Ghibli movies, and she would be up there with the best. Anna Paquin’s New Zealander accent was exotic and certainly set the film apart from most. I don’t mean to offend anyone from NZ, but after prolonged exposure to her voice I became irritated. I had the same feelings towards the voice actor of Patsu, who grained on my patience too.

I loved the movie to bits. It truly set a benchmark for animated films back in its day. My small synopsis did not do the story justice, for it really is a remarkable tale. The music, animation, and story combine to create one of the greatest animated movies of all time. Although it isn’t the best of Hayao Miyazaki (That honor would fall to either Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke), it is still one of the best animated movies of all time.

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