Credit: © 2004 Nibariki - GNDDDT
The Studio Ghibli season will run at BFI Southbank in April-May 2014.
Priority booking for BFI Champions opens on 3 March and BFI Members on 4 March. Public booking opens on 11 March.
As Studio Ghibli nears its 30th birthday, and Hayao Miyazaki’s long-awaited and hotly anticipated final film The Wind Rises (2013) arrives in UK cinemas, BFI Southbank launches a two-month complete retrospective of their remarkably innovative animated features, with a number of films screening from brand new DCPs.
Ghibli was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, fellow director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki following the commercial success of Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). Since then Ghibli has become synonymous with artistic integrity, producing almost 20 feature films including Grave of the Fireflies (1988), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2001).
This complete retrospective will include a preview screening of The Wind Rises (2013) on Wednesday 23 April 23 (ahead of its UK release on 9 May), as well as a rare chance to see the television film Ocean Waves (1993) on the big screen. Known for presenting strong, independent female characters, and exploring the relationship between humanity and nature, Ghibli are unafraid to explore important philosophical issues, while never forgetting that their primary role is to entertain.
Credit: © 1986 Nibariki - G
Miyazaki and Takahata met during their time at Toei Doga studios in the 1960s where they worked on their first major collaboration The Little Norse Prince (1968). Despite some success working on a number of projects in the years that followed such as Conan, the Boy in the Future (1978) and Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (1979) it didn’t lead to further work and Miyazaki began drawing an ad hoc manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Part way through the series the manga’s production company commissioned a film adaptation and asked Miyazaki to direct. He brought in Takahata to produce and the result was the wildly successful Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), included in the season to underline its importance in the Ghibli story.
Credit: © 1984 Nibariki - GH
The success of the film led to financial backing and Miyazaki and Takahata, along with producer Toshio Suzuki, founded a new animation studio where the directors were given absolute creative freedom. So key was this artistic integrity that when Princess Mononoke was threatened with edits by its US distributor, Ghibli sent Miramax head Harvey Weinstein a samurai sword in the post with a message attached ‘no cuts’.
Castle in the Sky (1986) was the first film from the newly formed studio. This thrilling adventure was set in a secluded mining village and influenced by a visit Miyazaki made to Wales in the midst of the miners’ strikes in the mid 80s. Then, in 1988, Ghibli agreed a deal to produce a double bill of films directed by Takahata and Miyazaki. Based on a semi-autobiographical book of the same name, Grave of the Fireflies was a devastating portrait of a brother and sister trying to survive in the aftermath of the firebombing of Kobe in 1945, and pulled no punches in its depiction of war.
Credit: © 1988 Nibariki - G
Released alongside it was My Neighbour Totoro, which would go on to become one of Ghibli’s most beloved and well known films; the titular character became the studio’s logo and even had a cameo in Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3 (2010). My Neighbour Totoro tells the story of two sisters who move to the country to be close to their ailing mother. Before long they realise that they aren’t alone and the girls are whisked away on a magical journey where they board a ‘catbus’ and share adventures with their new friend Totoro. Another film about childhood followed: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) represented a major breakthrough in the studio’s fortunes as Japan’s highest grossing film of 1989 and told a charming story of a young witch who leaves home accompanied by her talkative cat Jiji.
Conscious of the need for succession planning Miyazaki and Takahata were keen to develop new talent within the studio so they asked Tomomi Mochizuki to direct the studio’s first TV outing, a sweet tale of high school romance and friendship Ocean Waves (1993). Takahata’s Pom Poko (1994) introduced audiences to the mischievous raccoon dogs the Tanuki, who are forced into action when developers threaten to destroy their forest habitat and represents one of the first Ghibli films to focus on a strong ecological message.
Credit: © 1989 Eiko Kadono - Nibariki - GN
One of Ghibli’s most critically acclaimed films Whisper of the Heart (1995) followed; Miyazaki wrote the screenplay but handed over directorial reins to Yoshifumi Kondo, who was widely-tipped as the future of the studio until his unexpected death a few years later. Miyazaki’s epic tale of a war between animal gods and humans Princess Mononoke followed in 1997 and was the film that really put Ghibli on the map internationally.
Credit: © 2001 Nibariki - GNDDTM
Following the international success of Princess Mononoke, Ghibli released the award-winning smash hit Spirited Away (2001). With a nod to Alice in Wonderland and to Shintoism, Spirited Away is Miyazaki’s masterpiece, and is the only film not in the English language to have won an Academy Award for best animated feature. Spirited Away will also be screened as part of a BFI Film Funday, where children can take part in a workshop to create their very own cast of ‘spirit-gods’.
Miyazaki’s next film was Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), an adaptation of a book by Welsh writer Diana Wynne Jones. The film tells the story of 18-year-old Sophie, who is cursed by the Witch of the Waste and transformed into her 90-year-old self. Then four years later came an abstract take on The Little Mermaid: Ponyo (2008) is a beautifully-animated treat for all the family and once again touched on pressing environmental issues.
Mary Norton’s The Borrowers is given the Ghibli treatment by their youngest director Hiromasa Yonebayashi in Arrietty (2010). Like the little girl in Norton’s books, Arrietty is a tiny person who lives beneath the floorboards with her family until an accidental meeting with a human brings about a chaotic series of events. Hayao’s son Goro Miyazaki took the helm in From Up on Poppy Hill (2011); set in rural Yokohama just before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, this coming-of-age tale introduces us to Umi who is fighting to prevent her school clubhouse being demolished.
Credit: © 1997 Nibariki - GND
After many attempts to step down from the helm, Miyazaki announced in 2013 that The Wind Rises would be his last film as director. The film is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, real-life designer of the notorious Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft, who abandons his dream of being a pilot and becomes an engineer, spurred on by vivid dreams and the love of a woman. Though Miyazaki is stepping down, he leaves behind a wonderful body of work and with his son Goro, protégée Yonebayashi and Takahata himself still creatively driving Ghibli forward, the Studio’s future looks set to be stronger than ever.
Screenings taking place during the season
Preview: The Wind Rises Kaze Tachinu
Japan 2013. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 126min. PG. Courtesy of Studio Canal
The highest grossing film in Japan last year, The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, real-life designer of the notorious Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft. In the film, Jiro is forced to abandon his dream of being a pilot and becomes an engineer, spurred on by vivid dreams and the love of a woman. Featuring some breathtaking artwork, Miyazaki’s latest animated title from Studio Ghibli is based upon his own manga.
Tickets £15, concs £11.50 (Members pay £1.50 less)
Wed 23 Apr 18:20 NFT1
Season Introduction: Studio Ghibli, Masters of Anime
Telling the story of Japan’s most acclaimed, beloved and successful animation studio (and its directors and founders Hiyao Miyazaki and Isao Takahta), this richly illustrated talk will surely convince any novices of the joys of anime. Season curator – and longtime devotee – Justin Johnson will explore the quality and beauty of the Studio’s output, its evolution through its 30 year history, and consider why it hasn’t had the same box-office impact as its American contemporaries – despite rapturous critical reception.
Wed 2 Apr 18:30 NFT3
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Kaze no tani no Naushika
Japan 1984. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 100min. EST. PG
Miyazaki’s audacious tale of Princess Nausicaa and her protection of the Ohmu, an insect race threatened by the Valley’s neighbours and an essential element to a fragile eco-system, was based on his own manga. Its success became the foundation for Studio Ghibli, which opened the following year. Its central themes such as seeking a peaceful alternative to war, and human relationships with nature, have continued to populate many of Miyazaki’s other works.
Wed 2 Apr 20:30 NFT3
Thu 3 Apr 18:20 NFT2
Mon 7 Apr 20:30 NFT3
Castle in the Sky Tenku no shiro rapyuta
Japan 1986. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 124min. EST. PG
Young Sheeta and Pozu must protect a precious crystal from falling into the hands of an unscrupulous government agent and a gang of sky pirates. This ‘levistone’ may have the power to transport its bearer to the legendary floating city of Laputa and its reputed treasures. Ghibli’s first film is a thrilling adventure set in an alternate 19th Century, and produces a high quality anime style that sets the benchmark for the films to follow.
Thu 10 Apr 18:00 NFT3
Fri 11 Apr 20:40 NFT3
Tue 15 Apr 20:30 NFT3
Grave of the Fireflies Hotaru no haka
Japan 1988. Dir Isao Takahata. 89min. EST. 12A
1945. Brother and sister Seita and Setsuko are left homeless after their village is bombed and they are forced to find ways to survive with few resources and no hope. A true masterpiece, this is a devastating and unexpected piece that doesn’t pull any punches in its depiction of a country at war, and a family desperate to stay together at all costs.
Wed 3 Apr 21:00 NFT2
Wed 9 Apr 18:30 NFT1
Sun 13 Apr 16:15 NFT1
My Neighbour Totoro Tonari no Totoro
Japan 1988. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 86min. EST. U
Satsuki and Mei move to a new home in the country after their mother falls ill. It’s soon clear that their new house isn’t empty, as there are house spirits inside and wood spirits and other creatures on the outside. The girls are soon whisked away into a magical adventure where they board a ‘catbus’ and share many experiences with their new friends. Cited by Akira Kurosawa as one of his favourite Japanese films of all time, My Neighbour Totoro introduced the world to the much loved Totoro, now an icon and the logo of Studio Ghibli itself.
Thu 17 Apr 18:30 NFT1
Sat 19 Apr 18:20 NFT2
Mon 28 Apr 20:50 NFT3
Kiki’s Delivery Service Majo no Takkyubin
Japan 1989. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 102min. EST. U
Kiki, a young witch, leaves her village and flies by broom to the city, accompanied by her talkative cat Jiji. Settling by the seaside, she starts her own courier service, which results in mayhem and some misfortune. Arguably Ghibli’s most accessible title, it represented a major breakthrough in the studio’s fortunes as Japan’s highest grossing film of 1989, and a family favourite throughout the world.
Sun 20 Apr 16:00 NFT1
Mon 21 Apr 16:00 NFT1
Sun 27 Apr 15:50 NFT1
Porco Rosso Kurenai no buta
Japan 1992. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 94min. EST. PG
It’s the 1920’s in the Italian Adriatic Coast. Marco Rossolini was a WW1 flying ace, but is now a bounty hunter and the victim of a curse which has left him living as a pig known as Porco Rosso. Miyazaki’s love of aviation is fully explored during this high octane tale of a high-flying hog and his battle against pirates – not to mention his role in a possible love triangle involving an arrogant American pilot and the lovely Gina.
Screening from a brand new DCP
Sun 20 Apr 18:30 NFT2
Tue 22 Apr 20:40 NFT2
Tue 29 Apr 18:20 NFT2
Spirited Away Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Japan 2001. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 125min. PG
Ten-year-old Chihiro and her parents unwittingly stumble upon a magical world which is home to a sanctuary for the weary inhabitants of the spirit world. With her parents turned into pigs, Chihiro begins a surreal journey in which she finds work at a bath house and encounters a dragon. With a nod to Alice in Wonderland, Spirited Away is Miyazaki’s masterpiece, and a true animated classic that deserves all of the awards and recognition that it has received.
Sat 26 Apr 18:15 NFT1
Mon 28 Apr 18:15 NFT1
Family Funday: Sprited Away Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Japan 2001. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 125min. PG
To tie-in with our Studio Ghibli season, we are delighted to present this special family screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece Spirited Away.
Sun 27 Apr 13:00 NFT1
Join our Funday Workshop to create your very own cast of ‘spirit-gods’. Choose what they’re the spirits of, what they look like and what their powers might be. Then bring your spirit world to life in our animation workshop, and set your characters free on an adventure. There are great prizes on offer for the most fantastical creations and wondrous tales, so ready those imaginations!
Free to ticket holders of Spirited Away
Sun 27 Apr 11:00 Foyer
Only Yesterday Omohide poro poro
Japan 1991. Dir Isao Takahata. 118min.
Takahata followed up Grave of the Fireflies with this nostalgic tale of a girl in her twenties who leaves behind her mundane office orientated life to pursue her dreams in the countryside. In doing so, she stirs up memories of her childhood and her coming-of-age. This adult drama surprised its audience by tackling subjects usually dealt with in live action, and went on to become Japan’s highest grossing domestic title in 1991.
Sun 4 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Ocean Waves Umi ga kikoeru
Japan 1993. Dir Tomomi Mochizuki. 72min.
Ocean Waves was initially made for TV in Japan as a way of allowing some of the younger Ghibli animators the opportunity make a lower budget picture. It’s an intimate look at how the friendship between two boys is affected by the arrival of a new girl at their school, and how they’re forced to question the value of their relationship in light of their mutual feelings for her.
Mon 5 May 18:10 NFT3 TBC
Sun 11 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Pom Poko Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko
Japan 1994. Dir Isao Takahata. 119min.
The Tanuki, a breed of mischievous shape-changing raccoon dogs, are forced into action when human developers threaten to destroy their forest habitat in order to build a major new urban complex. Initially they fight among themselves, but soon discover that if they unite they may have a better chance of success. With its strong ecological message, this is a complex and deceptively challenging work.
Mon 5 May 20:30 NFT3 TBC
Sun 11 May 16:00 NFT2 TBC
Whisper of the Heart Mimi wo sumaseba
Japan 1995. Dir Yoshifumi Kondô. 111min.
One of Ghibli’s most critically acclaimed films, Whisper of the Heart introduces Shizuku, a young girl who uncovers a mysterious coincidence connected to her love of reading. She soon finds herself in an antique shop where she meets someone who will help her follow her destiny. Miyazaki wrote the screenplay but handed over directorial reigns to Kondô, who was widely-tipped as the future heir to the Ghibli throne until his unexpected death a few years later.
Tue 6 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Fri 9 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Princess Mononoke Mononoke-hime
Japan 1997. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 134min.
After being cursed by a demon, young warrior Ashitaka begins a journey to search for a cure and meets a spirit princess named San. He soon finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between animal gods and humans, which seems destined to leave neither side unscarred. Miyazaki’s epic tale bridges history and fantasy, and as well as being a colossal hit in the domestic market, it also put Ghibli on the map internationally.
Screening from a brand new DCP
Sat 3 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Mon 5 May 16:15 NFT1 TBC
My Neighbours the Yamadas Hõhokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun
Japan 1999. Dir Isao Takahata. 104min.
The comic antics of the Yamada family provide an entertaining look at the life of an everyday Japanese family, with moments of beauty to be found in its suburban setting. Takahata’s use of water-colour, comic book-style animation was a stylistic shift from Ghibli’s previous work, but no less pioneering due to its groundbreaking digital technique.
Screening from a brand new DCP.
Fri 16 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Mon 19 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
The Cat Returns Neko no Ongaeshi
Japan 2002. Dir Hiroyuki Morita. 75min.
Haru is an unremarkable schoolgirl with a clumsy disposition. When she risks her life to help a small, black cat that has unsafely crossed a busy road, she is surprised when he stands up, brushes himself off and politely thanks her. A night-time visit from the King of Cats reveals that she had saved the life of his son. Untold feline rewards follow, including deliveries of gift-wrapped mice, pussy willows and the ultimate treat – the offer of the paw of the cat prince in marriage.
Screening from a brand new DCP
Sat 17 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Thu 22 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Howl’s Moving Castle Hauru no ugoku shiro
Japan 2004. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 119min.
18 year-old Sophie is cursed by the Witch of the Waste and is transformed into her 90-year-old self. She agrees to help Calcifer, a fire demon who powers a moving castle owned by a mysterious wizard, and this kick-starts a series of fantastical adventures. Miyazaki followed up Spirited Away with this family-friendly tale, based on the novel by British writer Diana Wynne Jones.
Screening from a brand new DCP
Wed 21 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Sat 24 May 15:50 NFT3 TBC
Tales from Earthsea Gedo senki
Japan 2006. Dir Goro Miyazaki. 115min.
Dragon sightings and other strange events begin to cause alarm across the land. Ged, a travelling wizard is joined by the young Prince Arren, and together they investigate these occurrences, including the death of Arren’s father. Yet they soon find themselves in danger. Miyazaki’s son Goru confidently takes to the helm of this very loose adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic fantasy series about the magical world of Earthsea.
Screening from a brand new DCP
Sat 24 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Fri 30 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Ponyo Gake no ue no Ponyo
Japan 2008. Dir Hayao Miyazaki. 100min.
Sôsuke befriends Ponyo, a mermaid-ofsorts who has run away from her family and longs to be human. Using her father’s magic against his wishes, she is transformed into human form, but in doing so unleashes a tsunami – thus threatening the lives of those on land and sea. An abstract take on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little
Mermaid’, Ponyo is a beguiling and beautifully-animated treat for all the family.
Sun 25 May 16:15 NFT1 TBC
Tue 27 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Arrietty Kari-gurashi no Arietti
Japan 2010. Dir Hiromasa Yonebayashi. 94min.
Young Arrietty and her parents are tiny people who live beneath the floorboards of a house where a boy named Shô is staying for the summer. Their accidental meeting brings about a series of events that threatens Arrietty’s whole world, and the situation is made worse when a meddling maid decides to hunt the family down using a pest control expert. Mary Norton’s tale of ‘The Borrowers’ is given an enjoyable Ghibli twist by their youngest director Yonebayashi.
Mon 26 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
Fri 30 May 18:20 NFT2 TBC
From Up on Poppy Hill Kokuriko-zaka kara
Japan 2011. Dir Goro Miyazaki. 91min.
Set in rural Yokohama just before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, this coming-of-age tale introduces us to Umi and her student friends. They are fighting to prevent their rundown school clubhouse being demolished to make way for a modern building, and rebelling against the spirit of ‘progress’ that they’re expected to embrace. This enchanting period piece has a nostalgic charm that’s hard to resist.
Mon 26 May 20:40 NFT2 TBC
Sat 31 May 18:10 NFT3 TBC