Hayao Miyazaki is a bloody wizard. A conjurer of animated dreams with line and colour as his wand and magic. A popular auteur in a form that has few. In the last decade in particular, his films - and the films of Studio Ghibli, the animation house he co-founded - have enjoyed a number of international hits (including Miyazaki's own Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle) that have garnered acclaim and box office success the world over.
So, no wonder that the latest film from Miyazaki and Ghibli, Ponyo (Gake no Ue no Ponyo), is receiving plenty of attention. The Optimum-distributed UK release is today (a good few months after the majority of the world has already seen it), but a London audience was treated to a preview screening of the dubbed version of the film.
Ponyo is Ghibli's resetting of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, in a similar way to how Spirited Away was their appropriation of Alice in Wonderland. Which is to say, Miyazaki takes the kernel of the story (in this case, a sea-bound creature wishing to be a human girl), and transforms it with Japanese imagery, locations and mysticism. Here, Ponyo is a magical goldfish-like creature who, after escaping the clutches of her over-zealous sorceror father, ends up on dry land, and enters the life of a lonely boy called Sōsuke.
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