Review of 'The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness'

kingdom_of_dreams_and_madness.jpg This Japanese documentary tells the story of Studio Ghibli as it is in the final stages of producing the latest Hayao Miyazaki Japanese animated film “The Wind Rises” and “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya” by his counterpart at Ghibli, Isao Takahata. It is very much focused on Miyazaki as the filmmaker follows him around the studio, as he goes out and about and even into his own home. The words are very much from Miyazaki himself and those around him telling of what he feels of retiring and what keeps him going.

As a fan of Miyazaki I found this an enthralling movie giving so much background to the man and what he believes in. The specific information given about “The Wind Rises” also provided me with insight into that somewhat controversial movie that tells the story of the inventor of the Japanese Zero (plane) that killed so many in the second world war.

Miyazaki is under no illusion that the work that he and his studio are doing is of a by-gone era and predicts the studio will collapse after his departure (followed, oddly, by a slight giggle after he says this). He has a point when you see the manual work that he insists be done on his pictures with numerous animators working long and hard on each and every cell. He himself starts work at 11 am and ends the day at 9 pm (“no later”) but often we see him here working all by himself in an empty studio - driven to complete his work. Yet we see another side of him as he insists on waving to the nursery children every morning (he says here that it is the children that help him to carry on with what he does) and going onto the roof of the studio every night to watch the sun set.

I particularly found the man himself charming and full of fun despite him asking the question “Does anyone ever truly work for their own personal enjoyment?” If anyone does, it surely is Miyazaki. Throughout the film he is seen smiling widely or chatting away with someone in a seemingly perpetually relaxed state of mind (the ongoing banter with his assistant is particularly entertaining). Having said that he certainly concentrates and works very hard at what he does you can see his satisfaction at the end of it so when you hear that the first line of his RESIGNATION letter reads “I hope to work another ten years” you are not entirely surprised.

A must see for Miyazaki fans, those that are interested in Ghibli films (Goro, Miyazaki's son, does make a somewhat underwhelming appearance here - he certainly does not appear to take after his father…), and others who are interested in seeing what drives creativity.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2014-11-14

Directed by: Mami Sunada

Studio: Dwango

Year: 2013

Length: 118 minutes

Genre: Documentary