The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

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The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (poster).jpg
Japanese theatrical release poster
Japaneseかぐや姫の物語
HepburnKaguya-hime no Monogatari
Directed byIsao Takahata[1]
Produced byYoshiaki Nishimura
Screenplay by
Based onThe Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Starring
Music byJoe Hisaishi
CinematographyKeisuke Nakamura
Edited byToshihiko Kojima
Production
company
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • 23 November 2013 (2013-11-23)
Running time
137 minutes[2]
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
Budget¥5 billion (US$49.3 million)[3]
Box office¥2.5 billion (US$24.2 million)[4]

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Japanese: かぐや姫の物語, Hepburn: Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) is a 2013 Japanese animated fantasy drama film co-written and directed by Isao Takahata, animated by Studio Ghibli and initially released by Toho in Japan. The film features an ensemble voice cast that includes Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora, Takeo Chii, Nobuko Miyamoto, Atsuko Takahata, Tomoko Tabata, Tatekawa Shinosuke, Takaya Kamikawa, Hikaru Ijūin, Ryudo Uzaki, Nakamura Shichinosuke II, Isao Hashizume and Tamaki Kojo and is based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[5][6][7] The film features the final film performance by Chii, who died in June 2012 and was the final film directed by Takahata, who died in April 2018. It was released on 23 November 2013. At the budget of US$49.3 million, it is the most expensive Japanese movie to date. The film received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards.

Plot[edit]

A bamboo cutter named Sanuki no Miyatsuko discovers a miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. Believing her to be a divine presence, he and his wife decide to raise her as their own, calling her "Princess". The girl grows rapidly and conspicuously, causing her parents to marvel and earning her the nickname "Takenoko" (Little Bamboo) from the other village children. Sutemaru, the oldest among Kaguya's friends, develops a close relationship with her.

Miyatsuko comes upon gold and fine cloth in the bamboo grove in the same way he found his daughter. He takes these as proof of her divine royalty and begins planning to make her a proper princess. He relocates the family to the capital, forcing her to leave her friends behind. She finds herself in a mansion, replete with servants. She is also saddled with a governess who is tasked with taming her into a noblewoman. She struggles with the restraints of nobility, arguing that life should be full of laughter and struggle.

When the girl comes of age, she is granted the formal name of "Princess Kaguya" for the light and life that radiates from her. Miyatsuko holds a celebration in commemoration of her naming. At the celebration, Kaguya overhears partygoers ridiculing her father's attempts to turn a peasant girl into a noble through money. Kaguya flees the capital in despair and runs back to the mountains, seeking Sutemaru and her other friends, but discovers that they have all moved away. Kaguya passes out in the snow and awakens back at the party.

Kaguya grows in beauty, attracting scores of suitors. Five men of noble standing court her, comparing her to mythical treasures. Kaguya tells them she will only marry whoever can bring her the mythical treasure mentioned. Two suitors attempt to persuade her with counterfeits. The third abandons his conquest out of cowardice, and the fourth attempts to woo her with flattering lies. When one of the men is killed in his quest, Kaguya falls into depression. Eventually, the Emperor takes notice of her. Taken with her beauty, he makes advances toward her, revolting her. Kaguya then demonstrates the ability to disappear at will, surprising the Emperor. Understanding that he has been too forward, the Emperor takes his leave.

Kaguya reveals to her parents that she originally came from the Moon after it spoke to her. Once a resident of the Moon, she broke its laws, hoping to be exiled to Earth so that she could experience mortal life. When the Emperor made his advances, she silently begged the Moon to help her. Having heard her prayer, the Moon will reclaim her during the next full moon. Kaguya confesses her attachment to Earth and her reluctance to leave.

Miyatsuko swears to protect Kaguya and begins assembling defensive forces. Kaguya returns to her hometown in the mountains once more. She finds Sutemaru and tells him she would have been happiest with him; Sutemaru vows to protect her. The two run around the grass field and Kaguya demonstrates the ability to fly. However, she loses it when they fly by the Moon, and the two drop into the water. Sutemaru wakes up on the grass field, thinking it was a dream, while Kaguya is seen in a carriage going back to the palace.

On the night of the full moon, a procession of celestial beings led by the Buddha descends from the Moon, and Miyatsuko is unable to stop it. An attendant offers Kaguya a robe that will erase her memories of Earth. Kaguya begs the attendant to grant her a last moment with her parents.

The attendant assures her that upon returning to the Moon, she will be free of Earth's impurities. Kaguya rebuffs her, saying that Earth is full of wonder and life. The attendant then drapes the robe around Kaguya, and she appears to forget about her life on Earth. The procession ascends to the Moon, leaving Miyatsuko and his wife distraught. Kaguya looks back one last time, and tears run down her eyes as she recognizes the love from her parents.

Voice cast[edit]

Character Japanese cast[8] English dub cast
Princess Kaguya Aki Asakura [ja] Chloë Grace Moretz
Caitlyn Leone (young)
Sutemaru Kengo Kora Darren Criss
The Bamboo Cutter Takeo Chii[a] James Caan
The Bamboo Cutter's Wife Nobuko Miyamoto Mary Steenburgen
Lady Sagami Atsuko Takahata Lucy Liu
Me no Warawa Tomoko Tabata Hynden Walch
Inbe no Akita Tatekawa Shinosuke George Segal
Prince Ishitsukuri Takaya Kamikawa James Marsden
Lord Minister of the Right Abe Hikaru Ijūin Oliver Platt
Great Counselor Otomo Ryudo Uzaki Daniel Dae Kim
The Mikado Nakamura Shichinosuke II Dean Cain
Prince Kuramochi Isao Hashizume Beau Bridges
Middle Counselor Isonokami Tamaki Kojo John Cho
  1. ^ Yuji Miyake recorded additional dialogue for the bamboo cutter following Takeo Chii's death.[9]

Production[edit]

Studio Ghibli revealed that Isao Takahata was working on a feature-length film in 2008.[10] Takahata announced at the 62nd Locarno International Film Festival in 2009 that he intended to direct a film based on the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.[11] The release of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was finally confirmed by Studio Ghibli and distributor Toho on 13 December 2012.[12]

Soundtrack[edit]

In 2012, Shinichiro Ikebe was announced to write the film's score. However, in 2013, Joe Hisaishi replaced Ikebe as the composer. This is the first and only time that Hisaishi has scored a film directed by Isao Takahata.[13] The theme song "When I Remember This Life" was performed by Kazumi Nikaidō.[14] The film's soundtrack was released on 20 November 2013.[15]

All tracks written by Joe Hisaishi.

Release[edit]

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya was initially announced to be released simultaneously with The Wind Rises, another Ghibli film by Hayao Miyazaki in Japan in the summer of 2013,[16] which would have marked the first time that the works of the two directors were released together since the release of the films My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies in 1988.[16] However, in February 2013, distributor Toho announced that the release of Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari would be delayed to Fall 2013, citing concerns that the storyboards were not yet complete.[17][18] On 12 March 2014, independent distributor GKIDS announced that it had acquired the US rights for the film and that it would release an English dub version produced by Studio Ghibli and Frank Marshall.[19] Chloë Grace Moretz is the voice of the title character in the English dub. It was released in select theatres in North America on 17 October 2014 and was also released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on 3 December 2014.[20][21] The film was selected to be screened as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[22] Its North American premiere took place at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the festival's "Masters" program.[23]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at first place during its opening weekend in Japan, grossing ¥284 million (US$2.8 million).[24] By 2 February 2014, the film had grossed ¥2,313,602,733 (US$22,613,153) at the Japanese box office.[25] Total gross of the film worldwide is $24,186,232.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes assigned the film a score of 100% "Certified Fresh" with an average rating of 8.3/10 based on 86 reviews. The critics' consensus says, "Boasting narrative depth, frank honesty, and exquisite visual beauty, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a modern animated treasure with timeless appeal."[26]

In February 2014, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya placed 4th in both Kinema Junpo's Best Ten and their Reader's Choice Awards.[27] David Ehrlich of The A.V. Club gave the film an A, deeming it "the best animated movie of the year," adding that it is "destined to be remembered as one of the revered Studio Ghibli’s finest achievements."[28] Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times praised the artwork calling it "exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line."[29]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Results
2013 64th Blue Ribbon Award[30] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Isao Takahata Nominated
68th Mainichi Film Awards[31] Animation Film Award Won
2014 8th Asia Pacific Screen Award[32] Best Animated Feature Film Yoshiaki Nishimura Won
37th Japan Academy Prize[33] Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Joe Hisaishi Nominated
Kinema Junpo Awards[34] Best Film Nominated
67th Cannes Film Festival[35] Art Cinema Award (Directors' Fortnight) Isao Takahata Nominated
Prix SACD (Directors' Fortnight) Isao Takahata Nominated
Fantastic Fest[36] Audience Award Won
62nd San Sebastián International Film Festival Audience Award Nominated
39th Toronto International Film Festival[23] People's Choice Award for Best Drama Feature Film Nominated
47th Sitges Film Festival[37] Best Animated Feature Nominated
36th Mill Valley Film Festival[38] Audience Award for Best Animated Film Won
18th Oslo Films from the South Festival[39] Best Feature Nominated
35th Boston Society of Film Critics Awards[40] Best Animated Film Isao Takahata Won
40th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards[41] Best Animated Film Isao Takahata Won
Chicago Film Critics Association[42] Best Animated Feature Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle[43] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Toronto Film Critics Association[44] Best Animated Feature Won
18th Online Film Critics Society Awards[45] Best Animated Film Nominated
Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
87th Academy Awards[46] Best Animated Feature Film Isao Takahata, Yoshiaki Nishimura Nominated
2015 42nd Annual Annie Awards[47] Best Animated Feature Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Isao Takahata Nominated
Music in a Feature Production Joe Hisaishi Nominated
2016 21st Empire Awards[48][49] Best Animated Film Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]