For “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” director MamiSunada was allowed remarkable access to one of the most important artisticenterprises of the last half-century, Studio Ghibli, at a quality point inits existence. News about the shuttering of the company that has given theworld masterpieces like “My Neighbor Totoro” và “Spirited Away” reverberatedthroughout the animation community & beyond earlier this year. & there’s asense in “Kingdom" that this is an elegy of sorts, a goodbye khổng lồ an era ofremarkable creative resonance. The cinematic visions that emerged from thedrawing tables of this relatively nondescript building have influencedcountless creative voices, & will continue to do so for the rest of time. Tosay I’m a Ghibli fan would be something of an understatement (my “Totoro”iPhone case had lớn be internationally ordered, for the record), and so “Kingdom”naturally speaks to my interests. If you’re not enraptured with the work ofHayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata và the rest of the artists at Ghibli, it may notbe precisely what you’re looking for, but Sanada captures something poeticabout art and creativity that could speak to anyone, animation fan hâm mộ orotherwise.

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Having said that, it’s very helpful to lớn have seen “The WindRises” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” the two most recent Ghibli films,and the two pieces being worked on for the year Sanada had access lớn thestudio. Just the very idea that two such massive productions from two mastersof the form were being produced simultaneously seems khổng lồ cause ulcers in severalproducers involved. & yet Miyazaki’s process has been the same for decades.He works from 11am-9pm every day, on the dot. He doesn’t write scripts, hewrites storyboards, and his assistants begin production from those drawingsbefore he’s done, unsure of how the film will end. Miyazaki is very mở cửa withhis process, opening his studio and trang chủ to Sanada, và philosophizing on artand humanity in ways that feel like someone coming lớn terms with a life’s work.He speaks candidly about how he makes films for others, most notably the peopleat Ghibli, and yet there’s something so deeply personal about “The Wind Rises”that it’s the first film that makes him cry after its premiere screening. Heshares the “beautiful but cursed dreams” of its protagonist.

“The Kingdom of Dreams và Madness” contains surprisinglylittle actual film footage. There are more shots of Miyazaki"s cát than his films. We see bits và pieces of “Wind Rises” as it’sbeing assembled, but this is more a “year in the life” documentary than ahistory of the studio, although there are bits & pieces of the latter. Sanada’sfilm is at its best when the director conveys the realization that this is astudio and creative voice at the very least in a transitional period andarguably in its twilight phase. The music, the tone, the subject matter of thetwo films, Miyazaki’s candid self-reflection—it all combines lớn paint aportrait of something beautiful that’s coming lớn an end. At nearly two hours,Sanada hits a few of these beats a bit too many times, even for this fan, andthe film bizarrely feels lượt thích it’s ending around the 90-minute mark, completewith a production-finishing montage, only to lớn go on for another half-hour. It’sa fascinating look into a creative process that has been essential khổng lồ thehistory of animation, but it could have been tighter as a documentary.

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There’s an amazing passage in which Miyazaki receives a letterfrom a man who received assistance from Miyazaki’s father after the war. Theproduction of “The Wind Rises” inspired the man to lớn write Miyazaki, and thedirector points out how the sự kiện “Probably shaped the way this man looked atthe world.” Reality influenced art which then reflected back on reality. Thetruth is that Miyazaki and the people at Studio Ghibli have been shaping theway we look at the world for years, and will continue to vị so long after theKingdom has closed.


Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Editor of, và also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and đoạn phim games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist,The new york Times, and Rolling Stone,and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.