The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Encore screenings December 13 & 14 at 1PM
Legendary Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata revisits Japan's most famous folktale in this gorgeous, hand-drawn masterwork, decades in the making. Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chlöe Grace Moretz). The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her - but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.
From the studio that brought you Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, and The Wind Rises comes a powerful and sweeping epic that redefines the limits of animated storytelling and marks a triumphant highpoint within an extraordinary career in filmmaking for director Isao Takahata.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is adapted from the 10th century Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, widely known throughout Japan. It is the oldest extant Japanese narrative and an early example of proto-science fiction. The story details the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered inside the stalk of of a glowing bamboo plant and is raised by a poor bamboo cutter and his wife. She is said to be from the Kingdom of the Moon and has been sent to earth to serve punishment for some unspoken crime. Kaguya-hime grows rapidly from a small baby to a young woman of extraordinary beauty, and attracts the attention of five noble suitors and eventually the Emperor himself. She spurns their advances and sets them each an impossible task, promising to bestow her hand in marriage to the one who can fulfill his quest. Following this, Kaguya-hime retreats into a melancholy state, her eyes filling with tears every time she gazes on the full moon. Her adoptive parents worry greatly and question her, and she finally reveals that she is not of this world and must return to her people on the moon. When the celestial entourage comes to retrieve her, a robe of forgetfulness is placed on her shoulders and all of her sadness and compassion for the people of the Earth are forgotten.
In Isao Takahata's hands the folktale is transformed into a vibrant and powerful rumination on life's paths and eventual end. With her short time on earth Princess Kaguya experiences the joy, love, pain and bounty of our world with an all-embracing fullness that makes her parting from it all the more unbearable. The result is an artistic masterpiece, encapsulating all the wisdom and compassion of the filmmaker's 78 years.