The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

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They say you should never meet your heroes or look in the kitchen of the restaurants you love. This documentary is the exception to the rule. Following the inner-workings of Studio Ghibli over a two year period as The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya were being created, we get a window on the their process; particularly the near-mythic Miyazaki.

Miyazaki’s films have always been singular in vision and flow. They have a unique and magical quality to them. As it turns out, they are a complete reflection of the man and his process. Listening to him being interviewed and watching him work and go about his life, you feel like you are watching a live-action Miyazaki plot. It is an almost eerie experience, even as it reinforces your sense of the films and their artistry. While showing off the man, the film does have moments of honesty about him too. He is an artist and he is as strong in his opinions as he is in his skills. It is very much in the aesthetic of the culture: the view of the blemishes only makes the bits of perfection more fascinating.

While focused on Miyazaki, it is clear that none of the Ghibli releases could have happened without an army of people and a few generals. It is those generals (Miyazaki, Suzuki, and Takahata) that are provided the direct and indirect credit, not to mention most of the screen time. It is a slow walk through their world, but a fascinating one. You will leave this film as you do most of the studio’s releases, with a sweet sense of joy and loss; a sense of life.

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