Tales from Earthsea (film)
|Tales from Earthsea|
Japanese release poster
|Directed by||Gorō Miyazaki|
|Produced by||Toshio Suzuki
|Screenplay by||Gorō Miyazaki
|Story by||Hayao Miyazaki (concept)|
by Ursula K. Le Guin
|Music by||Tamiya Terashima|
|Editing by||Takeshi Seyama|
|Distributed by||Toho (Japan)
Walt Disney Pictures (International)
Madman Entertainment (Australia)
|Running time||115 minutes|
The film is based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu; however, the film's title is named from the collection of short stories, Tales from Earthsea, made in 2001. The change of plot was "entirely different" according to the author Ursula K. Le Guin who told director Gorō Miyazaki, "It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie", although she later expressed her disappointment with the end result.
|This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. (October 2013)|
A war galley is caught in a storm at sea. The ship's weatherworker is distressed to realize he has lost the power to control the wind and waves, but is more so when he sees two dragons fighting above the clouds, during which one is killed by the other—an unprecedented and impossible occurrence.
The King of Enlad, already troubled by tales of drought and pestilence in the land, as well as the news about people going insane, receives news both of the strange omen at sea and of the disappearance of his son, Prince Arren. The King's wizard, Root, tells the tale of how dragons and men were once "one", until people who cherished freedom became dragons, and men chose possessions; and of his fears of how the land's plight is because of the weakening of the world's "Balance". The King has little time to ponder on this before he is killed in a dark corridor by a young boy, who is revealed to be his son, Arren. The young prince steals his father's sword and flees the palace.
Later, the Archmage Sparrowhawk (Ged) arrives at the desert, when he witnessed Arren being pursued by wolves. He rescued Arren, who later agrees to accompany Sparrowhawk on his journey and travels to the city of Hort Town, where vendors scam people and slavers sell and trade slaves. Arren, after earning a cloak from Sparrowhawk, who buys it at a cloak vendor's stand, almost eats some Hazia from a Hazia dealer when Sparrowhawk stopped him and tells him that Hazia is a drug that makes people hallucinate and then eventually die if they eat more Hazia. After Sparrowhawk returned to the inn, Arren goes to explore the town alone, suddenly becoming scared as if something is following him. While running, Arren sees a young girl with a first-degree burn scar named Therru, fleeing from slavers and their leader, Hare. Although Arren saves her, he also shocks her with his indifference to the life of any person, even his own, while fighting the slavers, causing Therru to not trust him.
Later in the evening Arren goes to sleep by the port and is captured by Hare and the slavers but loses his sword as Hare believes it to be worthless junk. Arren is rescued by Sparrowhawk from the slavers, and they travel to a farm where Therru is looked after by a woman named Tenar, whom Sparrowhawk has known. Despite Therru's distrust towards Arren, Tenar welcomed the young prince with open arms.
Hare reports back into a castle to Lord Cob about the slaves' escape, and almost pays with his life for the loss, until he tells Cob that Sparrowhawk freed the slaves. Cob orders him to bring Sparrowhawk to the castle. At the farm, while Arren learns more about Sparrowhawk, Tenar and Therru's lives, Sparrowhawk also revealed that he is investigating the cause of the Balance being upset and eventually leaves for Hort Town, where he discovers that the sword Arren had is in a merchant shop. Sparrowhawk is then confronted by Hare, but transforms his face to disguise himself. When the slavers leave, he changes back and buys the sword.
Arren, at the retreat, reveals to Therru that he killed his father and that he is scared of the unknown presence following him, causing Therru to end up opening her heart to him upon realizing his true personality. Later Arren leaves in secret. Tenar is captured by Hare and the slavers as bait to lure Sparrowhawk into the castle and leaves Therru behind tied to a post as a messenger. Arren is again pursued by the unknown presence, which is a copy of him, and runs away, falling into a lake and falling unconscious underwater. Cob, who sees this, saves him and brings him to the castle, where he manipulates him, saying Sparrowhawk wants to use Arren to discover the secret of eternal life. Cob blackmails Arren to reveal his "true name", Lebannen, to control him. Sparrowhawk, on the way back to the farm, encounters Therru, who freed herself, and gives her the sword, telling her to stay and give it to Arren if he returns. He goes to the castle to save Tenar but instead finds Cob, whom he confronts after evading Hare and the slavers. Sparrowhawk also learned that Cob is causing the world's balance to collapse by opening the door between life and death to try and gain eternal life. After Sparrowhawk tried to explain that it's not right, Cob evades him and tells him he is "above nature." Cob then sends Arren out to kill Sparrowhawk, but Sparrowhawk stops him. As Sparrowhawk frees Arren from Cob's control, he tells Arren that death is natural and that no one can live forever causing Arren to realize what he almost did, before being captured by Hare and the slavers, as his power is weakened within the stronghold of Cob's castle. Sparrowhawk is then thrown into the dungeon cell Tenar is locked in.
Meanwhile, Therru sees a copy of Arren and follows him to the castle, where he reveals he is the light within Arren and the reason Arren's afraid of it is because of his fear of death and he is going insane due to the world's balance going out of control. He tells Therru his true name and says while he cannot go into the castle, he will be with her at all moments. Inside of the castle, Therru learns of Sparrowhawk and Tenar's sunrise execution by eavesdropping on Hare and the slaver's conversation at dinner. After they leave, Therru finds Arren, guilty and full of hopelessness, and brings hope back to him by telling him that life is beautiful and that death is part of the circle of life alongside life and then says his true name. She also tells him her true name, Tehanu. After Arren accepted his sword back from Therru, they both go to rescue Sparrowhawk and Tenar from Cob, Hare and the slavers, who are about to throw them off a high tower as part of the execution. After fighting and scaring off Hare and the slavers, the sword that Arren possesses unsheathes, revealing that this is due to its magical nature, and he cuts off Cob's hand, which flies away still holding his staff, rendering him unable to use magic. As Cob turns into a grotesque old man, due to the loss of his magic, he reattaches his severed hand and revealed that he wants eternal life because he doesn't want to die and he wanted revenge on the wizards of Earthsea and Roke for banishing him for trying to control the dead and become Archmage himself. Cob then captures Therru and flees to the highest tower on the castle, with Arren in hot pursuit. Cornering Cob, Arren tried to explain what he learned about life and death from Therru and Sparrowhawk to Cob, but Cob refused to listen and strangles Therru to death. However, she does not die as she has eternal life, and instead becomes a dragon, thus killing Cob and rescuing Arren from the collapsing tower that Cob destroyed to prevent Arren from advancing.
Sparrowhawk and Tenar leave the castle and as Tenar wonders about where Arren and Therru are, Sparrowhawk reassures her that they have Therru's dragon form's wings to guide them. Therru and Arren meanwhile land at a field where Therru reforms as a human. Arren tells Therru he will leave for home to repent for his crime, but will come back to see her sometime.
Then in the epilogue, after Arren and Therru reunite with Sparrowhawk and Tenar, Arren and Sparrowhawk reconcile and later on, all four of them worked some more farm chores and spend some time together like a family. Eventually, Arren and Sparrowhawk depart for Enlad, bidding Therru and Tenar goodbye. Therru then looks up to see dragons peacefully flying in the sky, indicating that the world's balance is back to normal as the Japanese writing meaning "The end" appears before fading to black and the end credits.
This feature film from Studio Ghibli is the first anime film adaptation of any part of the Earthsea series. In the past, many directors, including Hayao Miyazaki, had tried to adapt the Earthsea cycle for film, but were disapproved by the author herself. When LeGuin first heard of Miyazaki's interest in adapting her work, she had not seen any of his films and associated animation with the output of Disney; as such, she turned down his request.
In 2003, after winning an Oscar for his film Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki received LeGuin's approval but was busy directing Howl's Moving Castle. Studio Ghibli head Toshio Suzuki decided that Hayao's son Gorō Miyazaki, who was advising on the film, should be given his first directing job for the adaptation. Hayao was dissatisfied with the decision, thinking that Gorō lacked the necessary experience. They reportedly did not speak to one another during production of the film, however Hayao later acknowledged his son's work upon its first preview."
- Bunta Sugawara (Timothy Dalton in the English Dub) as Ged/Sparrowhawk, a famous wizard of Earthsea, known as the Archmage. He travels around, searching for answers on why the world's balance is collapsing. He eventually learned that his nemesis, Cob, is behind this and when he got captured at the end, Arren and Therru rescue him.
- Junichi Okada (Matt Levin in the English Dub) as Prince Arren/Lebannen, a prince of Enlad. Due to the world's balance going out of control, he is going insane and becomes afraid of death that he is being pursued by an unknown presence. In the end, Sparrowhawk and Therru help him overcome it and eventually, help save Earthsea. He even eventually falls for Therru.
- Aoi Teshima (Blaire Restaneo in the English Dub) as Therru/Tehanu, a first-degree burn scarred girl who is the same age as Arren. At first, she doesn't trust Arren because she thinks he doesn't care about life. Eventually, after Arren explained about his fears, she warms up to him and eventually falls for him. In the end, she is revealed to have eternal life and has the ability to change into a dragon and back, which resulted her in defeating Cob with her fiery breath.
- Jun Fubuki (Mariska Hargitay in the English Dub) as Tenar, a woman who is Sparrowhawk's old friend. She used to be a priestess at the Tombs of Atuan, but Sparrowhawk guided her to freedom from that place. She acts as Therru's only parent and welcomes Arren into her home with open arms. In the end, after getting captured by Cob's minions along with Sparrowhawk, Arren and Therru rescue her and Sparrowhawk during the final battle.
- Kaoru Kobayashi (Brian George in the English Dub) as the King of Enlad. He cares for his kingdom and is worried about the conditions. He is later killed by Arren.
- Yui Natsukawa (Susanne Blakeslee in the English Dub) as the Queen of Enlad. She is a strict woman and during the King's concerns, she scolded two maids for interrupting her husband's work when they expressed their concerns for Arren, because she believes Arren is old enough to take care of himself.
- Yūko Tanaka (Willem Dafoe in the English Dub) as Cob, the antagonist of the film. He is responsible for causing the world's balance to go out of control by opening the door between life and death in order to gain eternal life. In the end, Arren and Therru defeated him and the world's balance returned to normal.
- Teruyuki Kagawa (Cheech Marin in the English Dub) as Hare, Cob's minion head slaver. He is very loyal to Cob and is cowardly at times. In the end, Arren fought and scared him off during the final battle and he and the slavers leave the castle in fear. Whatever happened to them afterwards is unknown.
- Mitsuko Baisho (Kat Cressida in the English Dub) as a Vendor, a middle-aged woman who sells cloaks.
- Takashi Naito (Jess Harnell in the English Dub) as Hazia Dealer, a man who tried to bribe Arren into eating some Hazia when Sparrowhawk interfered.
Studio Ghibli released the first and second trailers on its official web site. A three-minute Japanese trailer was first shown in Japanese cinemas starting Saturday 24 February 2006. It was aired on NTV on 23 February 2006 (the day the trailer was completed.) Theo Le Guin, Ursula K. Le Guin's son, viewed the Japanese trailer and said this of it: "The images are really beautiful. The song too, it's not like something from Hollywood, but felt really like Ghibli." The trailers were made by Keiichi Itagaki, who had been responsible for trailers for all of the other Ghibli films up until then.
The soundtrack for Tales from Earthsea was composed and managed by Tamiya Terashima and was released by Tokuma Japan Communications and Studio Ghibli Records as a multichannel hybrid SACD-CD on 12 July 2006. Its release code is TKGA-503 and ASIN is B000FNNOTG. Carlos Núñez was a key collaborator on the soundtrack, contributing his ocarina, whistle and Galician gaita (bagpipe) to 11 of the 21 tracks. Newcomer singer, Aoi Teshima, sang in 2 of the tracks. A follow-up album, "Melodies from Gedo Senki", was released in 17 January 2007 and included unreleased Gedo Senki OST tracks and new tracks by Núñez. Its release code is SICP-1151 and its ASIN is B000HT1ZLW.
The film reached No.1 at the Japanese Box Office on its opening week with a gross of over 900 million yen, or 7.7 million USD, pushing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest to second place and became the number one movie in the country for five weeks, until it was pushed out of the top spot when X-Men: The Last Stand was released. The movie went on to be the #4 top grossing movie for the year in Japan.
Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of the Earthsea Series, gave a mixed response to the film in her review on her website. Le Guin commended the visual animation in the film but stated that the plot departed so greatly from her story that she was "watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story." She also praised certain depictions of nature in the film, but felt that the production values of the film were not as high as previous works directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and that the film's excitement was focused too much around scenes of violence. Her initial response to Goro Miyazaki was "It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie". However, she stated that the comment disclosed on the movie's public blog did not portray her true feelings about the film's vast departure from original stories; "taking bits and pieces out of context, and replacing the storylines with an entirely different plot..."
Le Guin's mixed opinion of the film is indicative of the overall reception of the film, particularly in Japan. In Japan, the film found both strong proponents and detractors. Many of the opinions can best be summed up in a response to Le Guin's comments on her website, that the weak points of the film were the result of "when too much responsibility was shouldered by someone not equipped for it".
The critical reception in Japan was also mixed, unlike all the other Ghibli movies have all received full positive reviews. Although in 2007 the film was nominated for two awards. As of October 16th, 2013, Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer shows a rating of 42%.
Tales from Earthsea was released in a limited theatrical release on August 13, 2010, in North America by Walt Disney Pictures. In its American release, the film was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some violent images, making it the first animated film distributed by Disney to receive a PG-13 rating. It is also the second Studio Ghibli film to receive this rating after Princess Mononoke. The DVD release date was March 8, 2011.
The film was released in selected UK cinemas on August 3, 2007, in both subtitled and English dubbed versions. The film was not released as widely as previous Ghibli movies, playing to 23 venues across the nation and making an unremarkable £23,300. Reviews were generally mixed. Radio Times suggested that it "lacks the technical sheen and warm sentimentality of some of Ghibli's earlier films", while the Daily Mirror called it "ploddy, excruciatingly slow" and not in the same league as the work of Hayao Miyazaki. However, Empire magazine said it was "well worth watching" while The Guardian called it "An engaging piece of work" DVD distributor Optimum Releasing released an English dubbed and subtitled, region 2 DVD for the UK market on January 28, 2008. To mark the release, HMV ran frequent sponsor credits for the DVD, as well as a prize competition, on the AnimeCentral channel.
In Australia, Tales from Earthsea premiered in Brisbane on April 15, 2007. The film began a single print tour of major cities on April 25, 2007 and ended up playing at locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth over the following months. It was notable that unlike previous Studio Ghibli releases, only a subtitled version was seen in cinemas. A 2-disc DVD was released on September 12, 2007 by Madman Entertainment, this time featuring both the English and Japanese versions.
In Spain, Tales from Earthsea (Cuentos de Terramar) premiered only in Madrid and Barcelona in two small theaters on December 28, 2007, only in a Japanese version with subtitles (an odd theatrical release compared to previous Ghibli movies). A single DVD and a special 2-disc DVD were released on March 12, 2008 by Aurum, this time with a Spanish soundtrack included.
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- Ranking at Eiga.com from 2006-08-15 (Japanese)
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- Play.com (UK) : Tales From Earthsea (Studio Ghibli Collection) (2 Discs) : DVD - Free Delivery
- HMV Sponsorship
- Madman Release Schedule
- Official website (Japanese)
- Official website (English)
- Madman Entertainment Official Website at the Wayback Machine (archived July 18, 2008)
- Gedo Senki at VIFF 2006: a review and interview with Goro Miyazaki
- Gedo Senki at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Tales from Earthsea at allmovie
- Tales from Earthsea at Box Office Mojo
- Tales from Earthsea at the Internet Movie Database
- Tales from Earthsea at Metacritic
- Tales from Earthsea (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Gedo Senki information at Nausicaa.net
- Gorō Miyazaki's Director's Blog (Japanese)
- Translation of Gorō Miyazaki's Director's Blog
- Translation of an Interview with producer Toshio Suzuki
- Film synopsis at Ursula K. Le Guin's Web site
- Official Hong Kong movie Web site
- THEM Anime review