Gake no ue no Ponyo (2008)

“Gake no ue no Ponyo” (2008)




Any simplistic approach to the work of Miyazaki will fall into a trap that per passes all his work. What he does is never the work of a childish mind or any kind of straightforwardness. The worlds he endlessly explores are deep because he paints them exquisitely, and provides us images as detailed and meaningful as we could expect.

Here the textures are watered down by the will he had to give us a child product, in the best sense the concept may have. So, if the sets are mildly complex in their representation, all the characters are highly simplified, except for one remarkable character, Fujimoto. This one has the kind of textured treatment, in clothing, face, skin, details, of the most visually complex films of Hayao. Interestingly, he also plays a pivotal part in the story, as he mediates between earth and sea, mundane and divine. He is the wizard who evokes and binds things together, and joins different forces, a kind of Miyazaki on screen. These characters are, for their single presence, able to capture you for their undefined expressions, their ambiguity in what they express, as well as for their strange contexts and very nature, a bit like Paula Rêgo’s characters, who belong to the same type of graphic characters as these ones.

In this film we watch again Miyazaki halfway between east and west. His obvious fascination for western (artistic) values discusses its presence with his Japanese ability to create water coloured still, yet visceral, images. This is something with which he has lived all his career. Here, besides the obvious story connection, a variation on a Disney explored story, even the music adds to the confusion, as it is a post-romantic shaped soundtrack, tonal but which slips endlessly towards undefined fields of tonal chains, a little bit like the late music of Richard Strauss. Music may be over-top some times, but it helps create powerful visual moments.

Anyway, i prefer when Miyazaki relies on his beautiful imagination; the images he creates supporting the mythology he invents, that’s when he is truly strong. This, to me, is more a sketch, delicious, but lacking a larger form.

My opinion: 3/5

This comment on IMDb


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