Movie Review: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

kaguyaFound inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.

There’s something fundamental and universal about fairy tales. There’s a reason children are read fairy tales and why adults enjoy Disneyland. Beyond the princesses and fairies, there’s something deeper that resonates with us. Like Aesop’s Fables, they contain messages that are applicable to everyone regardless of age or race. Watching The Tale of the Princess Kaguya reminded me of just that. Its is based on the Japenese fairy tale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter but is by no means inaccessible. In fact, it had a much greater impact on me than say, Snow White.  It is also not what you might expect from a fairy tale as it has a bit of a sci fi twist to it.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is an ode to nature and the simple things in life. It reminds us of the importance of relationships, of time spent exploring and running free, of living in a simple hut in the countryside for that is everything you need. Perusing material goods and status at the cost of all else can only lead to unhappiness in the long run. The main message that I took from it is to always follow your heart and find your own happiness. As with the other Studio Ghibli movies I have watched so far, and in line with Japanese culture, there was a strong theme of respecting, and living as one with, the environment.

I loved learning about Japanese culture through the the film. You always look at other cultures and always find certain traditions or societal fashions shocking but then you reflect on your own culture and find it no less absurd. As Princess Kaguya learns how to be a young lady of high society, you follow her journey from a life of hectic freedom, to one of rigid rules and constraints. The higher up in any society you are the more pressure there is to act a certain way.

The story telling is wonderful; slow and purposeful. The simple animation does a beautiful job of showing over telling. It is all done by hand in charcoal and watercolour and it is simply stunning:

kaguya 1

There are so many images that I literally want to put up on my wall. The artwork is inspiring, beautiful, delicate and extremely emotive. I’m honestly in love.

The ending made me very sad yet it made the messages hit home even harder. In all, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a stunning epic of a movie. I urge you all to go watch it.


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