Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Venice: Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea

There aren't enough superlatives to adequately describe Hayao Miyasaki's latest masterpiece, a delightfully sweet, extraordinarily imaginative Little Mermaid-esque children's fantasy that begins as it means to go on with a sequence of such astonishing colour and spectacle and creativity that it affixes a smile to one's face that remains firmly in place for the duration of its 101-minute running time.

Five year old Susoko lives by the sea with his mother Lisa who works in the local old people's centre. (His father is a ship's captain who seems permanently at sea.) One day, while playing by the shore, Susoko discovers a small goldfish whom he names Ponyo. But Ponyo isn't just any fish. Having escaped from her sorcerer father's underwater lair and after sampling a few drops of Susoko's blood from a cut on a finger, some ham, and a dose of his love, Ponyo decides to become human, the consequences of which put not only her life at risk but those of Susoko's entire community.

Armed with such a simple narrative, Miyasaki orchestrates a riot of bright colour and unbridled imagination, populating his triumphant, idiosyncratic vision with a plethora of charming characters and whimsical sea creatures that appear to have sprung wholly into existence from the mind of a five-year-old with a particular fondness for prehistorical monsters. There are nods too to environmental issues and a sly, subversive streak, plus a peculiarly Japanese sense of morality (Susoko's mother drives her car way too fast, often putting herself and her son in jeopardy, and has a fondness for cracking open a can of beer when stressed) but this is another memorable and wondrous film from an animation master who, aged 67, is at the peak of his game.


Gerard said...

...And now, we wait for it to secure an international release.

Can't tell you how happy I am to read this. Miyazaki = an all-time favourite. So glad he's still making movies.

Mark Salisbury said...

Having made so much money in Japan, I can't see it being too long.

Stram said...

I've always loved Miyazaki's movies too. I think he found one of the best way of telling us this kind of poetry and stories... His movies always make you smile or move you in a way you always want to be with people you love after seing them. So eager to see Ponyo.