MIFF 2014 – The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013)

Director: Mami Sunada
Featuring: Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata, Hideaki Anno, John Lasseter
Tagline: “Oh no! I left the goats out!”


Covering the production of Hayao Miyazaki’s final film the Wind Rises, we see the daily workings of Studio Ghibli and watch the master at work. He is the very personification of the kindly Geppetto as his creations come to life on screen. It was a very warm festival audience that I saw the film with so people laughed at everything.

Although Isao Takahata was mentioned and did appear, they did not follow the work on a Tale of Princess Kaguya apart from saying there were issues with the production and they didn’t think it was ever going to be finished.

With the recent announcement of Studio Ghibli scaling back production and moving to a model where they hire artists on a per-project basis, you can see why that it is from the things said here. Miyazaki complains that he is getting to old to be drawing every day, and uses a 6B pencil to draw, where children only need to use a 5B pencil.

Miyazaki is the star and is only upstaged by the studio cat (Ushiko) once or twice. I was surprised at how candid Miyazaki was as even the narrator mentioned that he changes his mind about his fellow creator Isao Takahata from day to day and there is creative tension between them as rivals within the same company.

Some of the staff also seemed to discourage people from working at the company as the best people often do not last long due to having more demands put on them.

It was also interesting to see Toshio Suzuki, the producer of many of Studio Ghibli movies and you do not get to hear from the producer of the movie that often even they are ones ultimately responsible for getting the film done.

The Japanese work culture was interesting with everyone smoking at work and people stopping and doing exercise as a group (this would be a good thing for a lot of desk-based jobs). I did like the part where everyone stopped and went up to the roof to look at the garden they have there. Miyazaki spends part of his day waving to children in the child care at the company.

Having seen the Wind Rises it was interesting to see how the production of the film was worked out and even the part where Miyazaki received a letter from a survivor of an air raid during World War II made it into the documentary.

While mainly recommended to fans of Miyazaki’s work, if you have an interest in the creative process or animation I would also put this forward as something you should see.

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