Finished Watching: “Castle in the Sky”, Directed by Hiyao Miyazaki
What an incredible film. Truly incredible.
If anybody hasn’t seen it, and has the remotest interest in adventure films – I mean, like, if you thought “Indiana Jones” was “sort of okay” – watch this movie right now.
To me it suffers a bit – mostly because Mark Hamill’s voice in the english dub throws me out of it for some odd reason. He’s also as close to an “evil” character as I remember in Miyazaki’s films that I’ve seen, but like the emperor from Larry’s Grimnoir books, has a motivation other than “be evil.” The pacing is also a bit slow.
*That* said, it is fantastic. The characters are great. The environment mind-blowing, the look and feel utterly unique.
I got it in a three-pack with *Kiki’s Delivery Service* and *Spirited Away*, and cannot recommend either strongly enough. *Princes Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, *and *Nausicaa* are also well worth watching. I haven’t seen *Ponyo*, *Totoro*, or *The Wind Rises.*
Speaking of [Totoro](http://superversivesf.com/2017/03/05/retrospective-neighbor-totoro-written-directed-hayao-miyazaki/):
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a movie so utterly different from both “Spirited Away” and “Castle in the Sky” it almost feels like a work from a different director.
“My Neighbor Totoro” is more or less in the vein of his film “Kiki’s Delivery Service” as a sort of supernatural slice of life, but for little girls. Miyazaki’s work can be categorized in a few ways. One way to look at it is that he has his adventure films (examples being “Castle in the Sky”, “Porco Rosso”, and “Howl’s Moving Castle”), his epics (“Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind”, “Princess Mononoke”), and his children’s films (“My Neighbor Totoro”, “Ponyo”, and “Spirited Away”).
This classification isn’t perfect (it becomes very hard to fit in “The Wind Rises”, for one thing, and while “Spirited Away” is most definitely a children’s film it also feels like something much more than that), but using it we can successfully classify “My Neighbor Totoro” in the children’s category.
This is a movie that western animation simply cannot make. I don’t think anybody has even TRIED to. It’s a movie directed at TODDLERS, but instead of being frenetic and didactic it’s a very graceful film, with a slow build, little real conflict for the majority of it, and an idyllic setting. It doesn’t talk down to its viewers at all; everybody and everything that happens feels very natural and real, even the supernatural parts.
The Castalia House piece on [why cultural criticism is indefensible](http://www.castaliahouse.com/why-cultural-criticism-is-indefensible/) is well worth the read.I also leaned about a [ship and battle I’d never heard of before](https://getpocket.com/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.menofthewest.net%2Fshort-violent-life-css-arkansas%2F&formCheck=2a4e48925a76365b9ccebb0a7157c621), despite growing up in the south, where we’re taught from day one how awesome we are, how the yankees suck, and we didn’t lose that war of northern aggression, and never get told anything different.
It was this chase that quickly led the Arkansas to Vicksburg… and legend. The Union had been laying siege to Vicksburg and had assembled what was, at the time, the largest naval force in the history of the Western Hemisphere. There were 40 ships. A forest of sails and smokestacks. In one of the great “Holy Craps” of our history, Captain Brown simply looked at that big bow gun and decided to blast right through. Hell, there was only 40 of ’em. Suffice it to say this was exactly what the Yankees did not expect. In fact, by the time most of the Yankee sailors even realized what was going on, the Arkansas was already blasting away on them. It was like Pearl Harbor, except it was just one boat attacking.
We may have, in the foreseeable future, [lighter, more powerful, and more importantly, *safer*](https://getpocket.com/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftechxplore.com%2Fnews%2F2017-02-lithium-ion-battery-inventor-technology-fast-charging.html&formCheck=2a4e48925a76365b9ccebb0a7157c621) batteries.
Del Arroz [nails it](http://delarroz.com/?p=585):
We don’t have lovable heroes we can root for anymore. We don’t have protagonists with real morals or real honor. It’s been a concerted effort by Hollywood to bring down our culture into its level of hedonism over decades, and it’s gone so far full tilt a normal person can’t relate at all anymore. But Hollywood is just a reflection of the literary world, as they steal their concepts, buy the rights to what they like, in order to make blueprints for their shows and movies.
It’s no wonder the only films that go anywhere are caricatures of the old Stan Lee stuff from the 60s, where it was heroes who start as ordinary, become extraordinary through their powers, and through their own exploration of self and sense of wonder, save the world time and time again. Those characters preach responsibility and loyalty, words that rarely are used anymore. That resonates with our basic human nature and desire to be better. That resonates with fun.
The sad part is that these readers and viewers are still out there, but they aren’t even looking for content anymore because they’ve been let down time and time again. They’ve been told, through the stories that are produced, that they’re basically not wanted and should buzz off. It’s been a systematic destruction of a customer base by big publishing, the comic book industry and Hollywood. Since the 90s, those groups have lived off of trying to create a shock value that is more horrific, more morally degrading and with bigger explosions than the last one in order to compensate for this.People do turn their head to watch a train wreck every time, we know that much to be true. The problem is, they won’t come back and watch that train wreck over and over because they feel disgusting if they do, and rightfully so. It’s short-sighted and lazy, and that’s what’s caused this downward spiral.
And finally, Quintus Curtius on [the wisdom of mercy](https://qcurtius.com/2017/03/05/the-wisdom-on-mercy-from-ibn-hazm-al-zahiri/).