Studio Ghibli Animation Retrospective Coming to Vancouver

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Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli

Between December 14 and January 3, the Vancity Theatre and The Cinematheque — both located in downtown Vancouver — are co-hosting Castles in the Sky: The Masters of Studio Ghibli.

It’s a major retrospective of films from the world-renowned anime studio Studio Ghibli founded in Tokyo in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki.

Perfect for transcending the winter greys, these films prove that Studio Ghibli is every bit the equal of any animation studio in the world or in film history.

All Studio Ghibli films presented at the Vancity Theatre will be screened in 35mm in the English-language versions. All films at the Cinematheque will screen in Japanese-language prints with subtitles.

These films are open to all ages. Princess Mononoke is classified 14A; all other titles are rated G or PG. The Vancity Theatre offers a special rate of $7 for youth under 19.

Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
“Best Animated Film of All Time”- Time Out Magazine
“Whenever I watch it, I smile, and smile, and smile” – Roger Ebert
Friday, December 14, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, December 21, 5 p.m.; Sunday, December 23, 3:50 p.m.; Monday, December 24, 2 p.m.; Friday, December 28, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1988, 35mm, 86 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning, Tim Daly
Two little girls and their father move into a beautiful old house in the countryside to be near their mother, who is seriously ill in hospital. Largely left to fend for themselves, Mei and her big sister Satsuki encounter a strange and beautiful world of forest sprites named “Totoros.” Miyazaki’s most beloved film is simply magical and magically simple.

Kaze No Tani No Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
“A joy to watch.”- New York Times
Saturday, December 15, 3 p.m.; Sunday, December 16, 4 p.m.
Japan, 1984, 35mm, 117 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazake
Voice cast includes Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Edward James Olmos, Chris Sarandon
Miyazaki’s first film as writer-director (based on his own successful manga) is an extradinarily rich fantasy film, an eco-allegory set in a feudal, toxic future and a spirited adventure movie. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaa, the people of the Valley of the Wind are engaged in a perpetual conflict with powerful insects called “ohmu,” guardians of a poisonous (and spreading) jungle.

Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
Enchanted and enchanting… fast and funny; weird and wonderful. Mostly wonderful.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Saturday, December 15, 5:20 p.m.; Monday, December 17, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, December 20, 5:30 p.m.; Monday, December 31, 2 p.m.
Japan, 2001, 35mm, 125 min., English, Classification: PG
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Michael Chiklis, John Ratzenberger
Chihiro and her parents are en route to a new home when they drive through a mysterious tunnel and enter a deserted town. When her folks start gorging on food and transform into a pair of pigs, Chihiro discovers this place is not quite as empty as she had imagined. This is a place of spirits, gods, monsters and witches.
“Picks up a resonance, weight and complexity that makes it all but Shakespearean…. No other word for it: a masterpiece.” – Tony Rayns, Time Out
“SIX STARS (exception must be made for the exceptional). Spirited Away is a feast of wonderment, a movie classic and a joy that will enrich your existence until you too are spirited away. I don’t expect ever to love a film more.” – Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

Gake No Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo On The Cliff)
“You’ll be planning to see Ponyo twice before you’ve finished seeing it once…. It offers up unforgettable images [..] images that use the logic of dreams to make the deepest possible connection to our emotions, and to our souls.”- Kenneth Turan, NPR
Sunday, December 16, 2 p.m.; Wednesday December 19, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, December 24, 3:45 p.m.; Saturday, December 29, 4:15 p.m.
Japan, 2008, 35mm, 101 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon
Miyazaki’s strange and beguiling fantasy film about a sea spirit – it’s an odd eco fable about the terrible power of the sea, but illustrated with such beauty and imagination it transports us entirely into another world. Rated G, this is suitable for children of all ages.
“Miyazaki knows the secret language of children; he dives deep into the pool of childhood dreams and fears and, through his animagic, takes children down to where they can breathe, and feel, and be free.” – Richard Corliss, Time

Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
“Complex, superbly rendered, and wildly eccentric – even by Miyazaki’s own standards.”- J Hoberman, Village Voice
Sunday, December 16, 6:15 p.m.; Tue. December 18, 6:30 p.m.
Japan, 1997, 35mm, 134 min., English, Classification: 14A
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson.
Set during the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) of Japan, Princess Mononoke is the tale of a mystical fight between humans and the Animal Gods of the forest. Aimed at a slightly older audience than most Ghibli fare (it is classified 14A), this epic folk tale shows the influence of Akira Kurosawa (a Miyazaki fan himself) and of John Ford, too. The film was the most successful ever at the Japanese box office (prior to Titanic), and named the film of the year in Japan’s equivalent to the Academy Awards.
“A symphony of action and images, a thrilling epic of warriors and monsters, forest creatures and magical spells, with an underlying allegory about the relationship of man and nature.” – Roger Ebert

Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky)
“Frequently astounding.” – Richard Harrington, Washington Post
Saturday, December 22, 12 noon; Sunday, December 23, 5:45 p.m.
Japan, 1986, 35mm, 124 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman
An island in the sky? The story of a young boy who sees a girl floating down from the sky. He comes to her aid in her flight from sky pirates, the army and secret agents. An adventure story influenced by Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels, Castle in the Sky is dynamic, imaginative family entertainment with valuable lessons about technology and ignorance.

Kurenai No Buta (Porco Rosso)
“Smooshes fantasy and history into a pastel-pretty yarn as irresistible as his feminism.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
Saturday, December 22, 4:10 p.m.; Sunday, December 23, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1992, 35mm, 94 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers
Pigs will fly! This cockeyed tribute to Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway features an anti-fascist flier (who happens to look like a pig) tracking sky pirates over the Adriatic in the 1930s. An exhilarating romp with a melancholy undertow – and amazing flying machines!
“Teems with Miyazaki’s personal passions [..] rendered with the utmost detail and beauty. As stirring as Casablanca, and as sophisticated as Only Angels Have Wings, it’s a sublime chivalric fable.” Nick Bradshaw, Time Out

Majo No Takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
“Astonishing in its visual splendor and delightfully entertaining, this magical family film about a little witch-in-training, from Japan’s celebrated animator Hayao Miyazaki, is not to be missed.” – Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, December 26, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, January 2, 4:15 p.m.; Thursday, January 3, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1989, 35mm, 103 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Kirsten Dunst, Debbie Reynolds, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo
In keeping with tradition, 13-year-old witch Kiki dusts off her broom and flies away from home for a year of independence and self-discovery in the big city. Her only companion is her beloved black cat, Jiji.

Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle)
“A stunning example of a pure, disorienting dream logic that cinema provides all too rarely.”- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
Thursday, December 27, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 29, 2 p.m.
Japan, 2004, 35mm, 119 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Voices: Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons
Teenager Sophie is cursed by the Witch of Waste and finds herself trapped in the body of an old woman, and is unable to tell her mother or anyone else what has happened. She finds help of sorts with the wizard Howl, living as a servant in his astonishing walking castle. Sophie is an innocent who must prove her resourcefulness, courage and conviction in a bewildering, alien world.

Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (The Raccoon War)
“Pompoko is a delightful, often uproariously funny film, at once childishly irreverent and thoughtfully mature. Being a Ghibli work, it is beautifully rendered and technically impeccable, with a great number of memorable set pieces.”- Tom Mes, Midnight Eye
Thursday, December 27, 2:15 p.m.; Sunday, December 30, 3:30 p.m.
Japan, 1994, 35mm, 119 min., English
Directed by Isao Takahata
Voices: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Clancy Brown, JK Simmons
Imagine Watership Down, Studio Ghibli-style. Instead of rabbits, we have raccoons. And not just any raccoons – these critters have magical powers of transformation. As their habitat is stripped and paved by the encroaching humans, the good-natured but rather undisciplined forest creatures embark on a campaign of disruption and distraction.

Neko No Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns)
“An enchanting, magical fable with a twisted vein of surrealism.” – Neil Smith, BBC
Friday, December 28, 3:45 p.m.; Sunday, December 30, 5:45 p.m.; Monday, December 31, 4:20 p.m.
Japan, 2002, 35mm, 75 min., English
Directed by Hiroyuki Morita
Voices: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Judy Greer, Elliot Gould, Tim Curry
Schoolgirl Haru bravely saves a cat’s life – and finds herself summoned to the Kingdom of the Cats for her pains, where she is to become the wife of the Cat Prince! When she refuses, she starts sprouting whiskers and furry ears…. What’s a girl to do?

Mimi O Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)
“A beautiful film.” – David Jenkins, Time Out
Wednesday, Janurary 2, 2 p.m.; Thursday, January 3, 4 p.m.
Japan, 1995, 35mm, 111 min., English
Directed by Yoshifumi Kondo
Voices: Brittany Snow, Cary Elwes, David Gallagher, Courtney Thorne Smith
A lovely change of pace from Studio Ghibli, this is a teenage first-love story, set in a realistically observed modern day Tokyo. Bookish schoolgirl Shizuku meets her soul mate with a little help from a portly cat.

Call the Film Info Line at (604) 683-FILM (3456) for the latest info and listings.

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