Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

One day while in the bamboo forest, a bamboo cutter stumbles across a glowing bamboo shoot.  Inside the shoot was a tiny girl.  He takes the girl home with him and shows her to his wife.  When his wife takes her, she turns into a baby.  This baby was no ordinary baby and grew at a rapid pace.  The bamboo cutter and his wife call her Princess and the neighborhood children call her Takenoko (Little Bamboo).  Little Princess/Takenoko lives a charmed country life where she helps her parents and plays with the neighborhood children.  She forms a close bond with an older boy, Sutemaru.  Another time the bamboo cutter is in the woods silks fall from the trees and he discovers another glowing bamboo stalk filled with gold.  He decides that this means he must make his Princess into a real princess and sets off to the city to make it happen.  Not long after, the bamboo cutter returns to take Princess/Takenoko to the city where she becomes an enchanting young woman and given the name Princess Kaguya (due to the light that radiates from her).  City life is not what Kaguya wants and often dreams of her life back in the country.  Kaguya catches the eye of several suiters and even the Emperor himself.  She must choose the comfy life in the city or to return to the country.  Events soon spiral out of control and threaten to change Kaguya's existence forever.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.  This film adaptation is brought to the big screen by Japanese powerhouse Studio Ghibli.  The art style is quite different from other Ghibli films but really enhances the narrative.  From the beginning, it feels like the viewer is stepping into the pages of the story and is completely enveloped by the tale.  The animation is outstanding and absolutely beautiful to behold.  The pace is much slower, but it allows the viewer to take everything thing and appreciate minute elements of the animation and story.  The soundtrack adds to the story and includes haunting melodies that evoke strong emotion.  This film is in the original Japanese with English subtitles as well as a star-studded English dub.  This title is for all ages, but the younger audiences may not enjoy it as the pace can be slow.  Teens and especially adults can enjoy this Academy Award-nominated film.  The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a feast for the eyes and ears and even the soul.

You can find The Tale of Princess Kaguya on the VBPL Catalog. If you enjoyed The Tale of Princess Kaguya, you may want to try Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro.

Review by Michelle L. Chrzanowski, TCC Norfolk Campus Library

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