Miyazaki classics keep audiences animated

Whether watching for the first time or the hundredth, Studio Ghibli brings back the memories April 13-19  

Photo credit: 1988 Studio Ghibli
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOTORO: ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ turns 30

If you’re not already familiar with Hayao Miyazaki, the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema is airing eight of his classic films, welcoming viewers to a world of animation. The binge-worthy event will also give long-time fans the chance to mourn the memory of Isao Takahata, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki, who passed away last week.

Always originating in Japan, many of Miyazaki’s films are then distributed to America after being dubbed in English. The often fantasy-based films are appealing because they’re different enough (sometimes downright strange) to be an unfamiliar and intriguing experience, but still have a nostalgic intimacy. The anime genre, which Miyazaki is considered one of the greatest directors for according to IMDB, holds a special place in the heart of Atlantans, where some of the biggest anime events are held including Anime Weekend Atlanta (just the largest anime convention in the Southeast, no big deal), MomoCon, and DragonCon.

From the Oscar-winning Spirited Away, to the endearing Kiki’s Delivery Service (which Takahata directed the music for), Miyazaki fans can enjoy some of his visually stunning cinematographic movies on the big screen with surround sound — not easily done at home, unless you’re one of the lucky bastards that have a home theatre. My Neighbor Totoro rings in its 30th anniversary this year, with the beloved Studio Ghibli mascot Totoro, a large and cuddly gray rabbit/bear hybrid-type creature, remaining a popular Miyazaki character to this day. Even if you’ve never heard of him, chances are you’ve probably seen the giant critter around. Keychains, stuffed toys, shirts, backpacks, MomoCon — he's everywhere.

Releasing his first film in 1979 and retiring (not for the first time) five years ago, Miyazaki recently came out of retirement (again) to make a short film titled Boro the Caterpillar released March 21. The power of femininity is shown in Miyazaki’s films, which regularly feature a strong female protagonist and often explore environmentalism as a common theme. In Princess Mononoke (1999), the negative impact human beings can have on their environment with deforestation is emphasized. Miyazaki may fade back into “retirement” once more, but I, along with countless others, hope it’s only temporary.

Several films will air each day and the first screening of each will be dubbed in English. Miyazaki’s films appeal to both children and adults, so take the kids, a significant other, or take yourself for a “me day,” and allow the thought-provoking films to not only captivate your inner child, but leave you thinking about the films’ deeper message for days.

$9-$11 per film. Multiple showtimes. Fri.-Thurs., April 13-19. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. www.landmarktheatres.com. 404-879-0160.


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