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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Year:
2013
Country:
Japan
Genre:
Drama, Fantasy, Animation
IMDB rating:
8.1
Director:
Isao Takahata
James Caan as The Bamboo Cutter (voice)
Brian Leone as Villager (voice)
Darren Criss as Sutemaru (voice)
Hynden Walch as Me no Warawa (voice)
Chloe Moretz as The Princess Kaguya (voice)
Beau Bridges as Prince Kuramochi (voice)
Oliver Platt as Lord Minster of the Right Abe (voice)
Mary Steenburgen as The Bamboo Cutter's Wife / Narrator (voice)
Daniel Dae Kim as Great Counselor Otomo (voice)
James Marsden as Prince Ishitsukuri (voice)
Dean Cain as The Mikado (voice)
George Segal as Inbe no Akita (voice)
Lucy Liu as Lady Sagami (voice)
John Cho as Middle Counselor Isonokami (voice)
Storyline: An old man makes a living by selling bamboo. One day, he finds a princess in a bamboo. The princess is only the size of a finger. Her name is Kaguya. When Kaguya grows up, 5 men from prestigious families propose to her. Kaguya asks the men to find memorable marriage gifts for her, but the 5 men are unable to find what Kaguya wants. Then, the Emperor of Japan proposes to her.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
720p 1280x692 px 3117 Mb h264 3175 Kbps mkv Download
Reviews
A masterpiece
The tale of princess Kaguya is one of the best films I've ever seen.

The animation has an original style of "unfinished" draws that combined with the watercolor based pallet, gives the movie a tone of poetry and emphasizes the "beauty of the simple". Its fascinated to see that a single brush line can represent many things even if its placed in frame full of details.

The director was able to give a deep meaning to the traditional Japanese tale. The movie is open to different interpretations such as a metaphor of the cycle of life which subtly exposes the condition of every life form to be born,grow up and die. Every aspect placed in a poetically way.

Regarding to be your interpretation the movie is by itself an astonishing masterpiece of animation.
2015-05-29
Little Bamboo! Little Bamboo!
Takahata's Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, considered one of the first early examples of prose. It's a very Eastern narrative - Kaguya is part of a divine race who lives on the moon, and despite her highs and lows on Earth, is destined to return someday. I am reminded of a similar Chinese folktale, about a beautiful but vain woman who abandoned her earthly life and husband in an attempt to reach the heavens, but flew much too short, and was destined to spend the rest of her days on the moon. Neither reach the gut wrenching lows of Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies, but Kaguya's tale is tinged with hints of regret, nostalgia, and longing for various things.

It's an increasingly rare but stunning example of traditional style animation, as per Ghibli standards. This one is even more unique. The old folktale is brought to life from its traditional roots; dark lines streak across the frame and fade out as if the brush needs more ink, splashes of watered down colours seep into the picture, and like the old scroll paintings, the background is often non-existent, blank and white. This is both good and bad - in some instances the film demands that the depth of the background be visible in order to immerse you into the world: the bustling marketplace in the capital, but more importantly, the grassy hills and trees of the countryside that she treasures the most of all. It's less concerned with light and shadow and detail (like many animes) and more concerned with a simplistic and serene portrayal of the story. But it also lends itself to the film's emotion - in one particular scene Kaguya is frightened and angry at being a plaything for her father to parade and put on a pedestal, and so she escapes in an otherworldly manner into the wilderness. Immediately the colour palette is muted and the shadows grow large and frantic. The art suddenly becomes frenzied as if the painter is feeling the same thing as Kaguya; the lines are streaky and messy and chaotic, the watery smooth ink is replaced by rough charcoal outlines. It's something that cannot be captured in a still frame, her fluid and furious movement frenetic. Her brows furrow (for the last time in a while) in pain and anger as she sheds layers of fine robes and runs through the streets underneath a gigantic full moon (foreshadowing her past and future). It's a remarkable scene. This is similar to the suitor's hunt for the jewel of a water dragon's neck. This too is stunningly portrayed, imagination fully realised as the embodiment of the deep sea roars and splashes against the tiny boat. We know that such fantastic and terrible things do not exist on this Earth, but can't we pretend?

I have seen some complaints about the runtime and how some sequences should simply be trimmed. I do not agree. Aside from the absurd notion that shorter is better, Kaguya's life on Earth is much more substantial when showing us everything; every stolen honeydew melon in the summer heat, every childhood song, every delicious communal pheasant stew (or lack of). The way that the baby Kaguya's animation and story are handled is sublime and tender. True, she is still growing up way too fast (actually a device that is not needed, seeing as she slows down later in life to match the adult Sutemaru anyway). But we are allowed to grow up with her, every step along the way. Another director might have utilised a two minute or so montage to illustrate her early years, especially those first steps as a toddler. Takahata allows us to take delight in growing up with our very own little bamboo.

Hisaishi's scores is up to his usual standards, with one track, The Procession of Celestial Beings, being the standout. It's a lively tune that trades the grace and serenity of the xylophone, triangle and flute with the heavier majesty of the brass and strings. At first I found it a little jarring, but on refection it's oddly appropriate. For the moon people, it's of course a celebration that their princess is returning. It's a stark contrast to the tragic farewell of Kaguya to her earthly life. Another thing, the English dub is surprisingly good (although it is Ghibli). Often I preferred it to the original Japanese because Moretz is less shrill and softer, more mature as she should be. For the few instances of singing however, the Japanese is a must, more beautiful and sincere than the awkward translation. And of course the songs are vital to the narrative.

True, the themes are simple and we've seen it before. The longing for the idyllic childhood, the rough damsel in a refined society, the rebellion against parental and societal expectations, the what-could-have-been romance etc. But it's done with such nuance and emotional depth. We have the father, who's good intentions become a classic desperation for status and wealth and recognition in the ignorance of his daughter's true desires. Kaguya's struggle is something we have all experienced before in some ways, but her individual circumstances are tragic. Even with all the male suitor's fighting over her sexuality and her unhappiness with conforming to the court, her earthly existence is a meaningful one compared to an eternally stagnant nirvana on the moon. How many films can elicit such pain and nostalgic longing with such a simple but haunting song? The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is about life after all, the ebbs and flows of joy and sadness, the sudden but inevitable end. If Hollywood has made this, it would be about life too, but it'd be an optimistic bildungsroman. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, but we do need more films like this.
2015-09-17
A movie that makes your mind fly away
Although I have seen a lot of movies from all genres I never felt the desire to write a review until today. This movie brought that side of me it seems.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya has a simple fairy tail story and that is why some people may think is boring or not be impressed, but the true essence of the movie lays in the powerful messages that are delivered throughout. Some may not be familiar with the genre or not a fan of fantasy films and will not be able to catch them.

The movie deals with problems that human kind has always confronted with such as the true meaning of life which may differ from person to person, the absurd and obtuse way the men treated their wives and daughters for centuries and death and how it affects the loved ones. But the one that I really appreciate is that we should enjoy every second of this mortal life, no matter if it is good or bad, important is that we feel something; without bad things we will not be able to appreciate and enjoy the good ones at its true value.

The soundtrack is really incredible and it gets better and better until the very end, making the movie experience so much enjoyable and is very fitting with the situations that the characters are getting through or with the places they are in.

As a big fan of movies that makes you think, those being my favorite kind, I believe this movie is a masterpiece that gets you into the meditating state and makes your mind fly away.
2015-11-01
Breathtaking visuals with an interesting but unsteady plot
The first thing to note about this film is the beauty of it. Just about all of the scenes of this film could be viewed in a museum which is saying something itself. If anything, watch the film for the portrayal of a young woman and the amazing visuals.

The film begins with a bamboo cutter finding a girl inside the light of a bamboo. The girl grows exponentially and she grows with the plot, going from baby to young adult way quicker than expected.

The first portion of the film is concentrated when she is much younger, (around the age of maybe 1-12?). Her playfulness with Sutemaru and the other children is quite an enjoyable portion of the film. As with many of Studio Ghibli's work, especially Totoro, the film is able to portray her life in a way many studios even without animation cannot.

The other half is concentrated on her moving to the capital and becoming a princess. Unlike the ideals of films in the US, she does not seem to want to become one, but instead wants to be with Sutemaru and the others. It's a refreshing change from the Disney Princess motif where beauty, richness, and a love is what is needed. Her life is transformed, eventually by Sagami, a lady who turns her into well, a princess. She is eventually approached by suitors and others.

I will not mention the ending of the film as well, I wasn't as big a fan of it. The big revelation is as shocking to the audience as it is surprising. I knew of part of the plot through Okami but the way it was portrayed was a little too in your face. The actual ending itself is odd, with many of the people in the theater (at IFC) scratching their heads and thinking, "That is it and what was that?" Also, I was wondering when the film was going to end. It slows down to a crawl but then speeds up to such a speed that it almost becomes silly.

I also wasn't as a big a fan of the father (Okina) through the later parts of the film. His transformation into a man of power/wealth is a bit too severe and one-sided. I preferred his wife (Oina) as she still shows the love and playfulness of them back in the village.

I preferred the plot of the first 4/5ths of the film than the other 1/5th in short. The film is excellent but the plot wears down on itself and by the end, it is harder to care and more think that it is just an odd piece of filming. The movie gets an 8.5...but probably would be closer to an 8 or 7.5 if the graphics/music weren't nearly as amazing as they are. I'm rounding it down for this reason.
2014-11-03
Truly stunning and quite possibly Studio Ghibli's best since Spirited Away
While I have not seen Song of the Sea yet, from personal opinion The Tale of the Princess Kagua was the best of the nominees. It is a stunning film and, while the Ghibli films since Spirited Away are all worth seeing at least once(with only Tales from Earthsea disappointing somewhat) and as great as Howl's Moving Castle and The Wind Rises are, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is the best since Spirited Away without being one of Ghibli's very finest.

It has and will alienate some viewers though, it is long, goes at a slow pace and elements of the story- for those unfamiliar with the old Japanese folktale it's based on- have gone and will go over people's heads. Neither of those however bothered me at all. The best things about The Tale of the Princess Kaguya are the animation and the music. The animation is just exquisite, Ghibli's best-looking since Spirited Away in which all their films since is the animation's the most consistently good asset of all of them, with everything looking so colourful and delicate and with an animation style quite unique to what's been seen before. Joe Hisaishi's music score is stirring, haunting and beautifully elegiac, it fits perfectly with the film's mood and is a wonderful score on its own, one that is guaranteed to have people rushing to find the CD if available and buy it.

The story is divisive but to me it worked just fine. It seems simple structurally but the film does much with it that it doesn't feel simple, what occurs is engaging, thought-provoking and incredibly touching while not trying to make things too complicated. What stood out was the ending, one that was completely unexpected but also one that is beautifully melancholic and emotionally heart-breaking. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya's thoughtfully scripted, has some elements of whimsy and flows well and while the characters are archetypal they still engage. The voice acting is very good, with the Japanese version even better than that. In the English dub, which for this viewer wasn't bored-sounding at all, Chloe Grace Moretz voices with a lot of spirit, James Caan is authoritative and Mary Steenburgen is sympathetic and dignified with her Narrator being the stronger of her two roles.

Overall, a stunning film, may alienate some but as seen will captivate most. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2015-03-28
Masterpiece
The Tale of Princess Kaguya's is Takahata's final work to end his prolific career at Studio Ghibli. The motion picture is not only based on the famous Japanese folktale but also a story about Takahata's own retirement and vision of death. Behind the facade of a girl that grows up to become a princess and eventually leave earth for the moon, is the author's own perceptions about the cycles of life, happiness, disappointments and afterlife. It's also a message about family values, and the lapses of time and age. The tale of princess Kaguya is probably my favorite Ghibli movie visually-wise. The water colors, reminiscent of ancient Chinese ink and brush techniques are masterfully used here, and bring out all the emotions from the movie's main protagonists. It really doesn't get any better than this. From the landscape canvas of rural Japan, to the magnificent character artwork, everything moves fluidly. The story is both hopeful and tragic, and the excellent dialogue adds up to it. The soundtrack from Joe Hisaishi is masterful and the Japanese voice overs are absolutely brilliant. To summarize without giving away too many details, this 140 min animated picture is a masterpiece from all angles, one of Studio Ghibli's finest releases and arguably one of the greatest animated movies ever made.
2014-12-10
Another soulful and quite beautiful film from Studio Ghibli
You have to hand it to Studio Ghibli, they really do know how to make exquisitely beautiful films. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is yet another example of this. Its story is based on the oldest folklore tale from Japan. It starts off with a tiny girl being found in a forest by a bamboo cutter. He takes her home to his wife and she immediately transforms into a baby and then grows up with rapid speed. Soon it is believed that she must be a magical princess and she is moved to the city to live in a palace. While here she experiences some unhappiness and longs for her old life.

The director of this one is Isao Takahata who directed the brilliant but harrowing The Grave of the Fireflies (1988) for Ghibli (so downbeat that it was the only Ghibli film to not be distributed by Disney). So, it was a bit of a left-of-centre offering from the famous Japanese studio, with Kaguya the material is more in line with what they are most famous for yet quite distinctive in several ways too. First off, as can almost be taken for granted, the animation really is quite beautiful and soulful. The style is definitely different though with a pastel watercolour palette and sketchy drawings. This style, however, suggests old paintings and suggests more effectively the ancient source of the material. The imagery is also complimented by an organic musical score that further underscores the aesthetic. As is the Ghibli genius though the story blends its surface fantasy with unmistakable reality, with important social issues interwoven into the flow. To this end we have the issues of women's place in society and the restrictions inherent in that considered in very clear ways. The story really captures this when five potential suitors for the princess are sent on impossible missions by her based on the superficial things they say to her in an attempt to claim her. It cleverly makes them consider the meaninglessness of their words and what their true motives are. So, it is quite a contemplative film on the whole and probably not very well suited to younger children who might find it unexciting. It's quite slow pacing and long run-time do make it one that is better suited to a slightly older audience perhaps. But if you can handle that it is a wonder in many places with a very emotional ending that is both sad and gorgeously delivered. Overall, this has to go down as yet another triumph for Studio Ghibli.
2016-11-26
A beautiful film that awakens one's inner child
Inspiration is hard to come by, the finer the art you find the harder it is to find something that touches you. Tale of Princess Kaguya has the ability to enlighten your mind if you're willing to let it.

This is the kind of film that leaves one somehow filled up, a sense of contentment that is inexplicable yet entirely tangible on an emotional level. The characters are full of the wide ranging human emotion that many have come to expect from 'Ghibli films, giving the audience; belly laughs, awe, sadness, despair, and happiness.

Studio Ghibli wastes no time in revealing the magical elements within the tale, in the introduction a magical birth of a tiny child happens deep in a bamboo forest that leaves a kindly elderly couple in awe and adoration. Feeling blessed they embark on giving the magical child the best care they can give to her. As soon as we see Kaguya spring in to action, all the joyfulness of films such Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Howl's Moving Castle is reborn. This was something that I was very happy to see having found recent Ghibli films to be lacking the trademark otherworldliness that I have come to love.

However, the film is not in entirely the same vein as many other Ghibli films, particularly in the animation department. The style comes across as much more minimalistic but equally as beautiful as any of their work thus far. It pays homage to ancient Japanese bamboo painting techniques, a style that I would imagine is painstaking to animate, yet it is gracefully brought to life. The ancient setting and style of the film gives the audience what feels like a genuine insight into medieval Japan, the customs, the fashions, attitudes, they all feel authentic and, for want of a better word, informative.

I don't want to give away much more about this story so I will finally say that The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a must for any Ghibli fan, don't let the uncharacteristic animation style put you off seeing this beautiful tale. It's something the whole family can enjoy too.
2015-11-03
Delightful and sort of frustrating
I liked this to a good extent, and my rating goes up because of the last 15 minutes, which are so magnificent. Those last several minutes and the first act are truly brilliant, but for some reason, the film sort of lost me in its middle and a little more than that. Not completely lost me, but it did get a little too much and it got to less interesting overall. I can't say I completely agree with the critical acclaim it's gotten, but I think it's a good, sometimes very good, film, definitely made stronger because of certain scenes. The sound mixing here is incredible, and the voice acting (in its original language) is pretty fantastic as well. Overall, still recommended but with reservations, yeah.
2014-12-07
Absolutely beautiful film about magic, good intentions and finding your place in things
This film was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Feature, losing to Big Hero 6. There will be spoilers ahead:

I'm not going to talk much about the plot, because this film must be seen to be appreciated. So I'll do a quick synopsis first and then talk about the technical aspects.

A bamboo cutter finds a small girl in a bamboo stalk and takes her home as a blessing from the gods. She becomes a regular sized baby and then proceeds to rapidly grow into a beautiful woman. She's taken to the city as a young girl to be raised as a princess Through much tumult, she finally learns her place in things and who she really is.

It really is a very interesting story, with fascinating characters-all of which should unfold for you as you watch the film. This is not only one of the best animated films I've seen, but also one of the better films I've seen in some time.

The hand-drawn animation is beautiful, the music is wonderful and matches the film perfectly. The editing is very good and the voice work (at least on the Japanese language soundtrack) was exceptional. The script was also excellent.

Although I like Big Hero 6 and consider it also a very good film in its own right, I personally like The Tale of Princess Kaguya even more and I wish it had won the Academy Award instead. I know it really doesn't matter. Both are excellent films and are deserving of the accolades they've received.

This film is available on Blu Ray and DVD. By all means, watch it on Blu Ray if you can. Most highly recommended.
2015-12-01
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