Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) celebrates the amazing work of filmmakers across the world and this year, renown and beloved Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki is spolighted for his internationally known films. Many films directed, written, and imagined by the genius animator are featured throughout the the span of the two week festival. HIFF’s presentation of Miyazaki’s and his affliated animation company’s, Studio Ghibli, showcase engaging storylines, interesting characters, and hypnotising vivid details that both adults and children enjoy. The animation film studio has created many films over the past few decades with very light-hearted to very serious themes and storylines.
One of the films presented was Miyazaki’s 1988 classic My Neighbor Totoro. Attending this film this past weekend, I found this piece of my childhood renewed and expanded on the big screen. The beautiful hues and colors was brought to life in the Regal Dole Cannery 18. The childhood classic film was seen by children, young teenagers, working adults, and elderly alike, laughing and giggling as the characters were introduced.
When I first watched this film, I was only 5 years old, and my perspective and reaction towards this film has changed quite dramatically. And I’m sure the other members of the audience would agree with me as well.
My Neighbor Totoro begins with young sisters Mei and Satsuki moving into an abandoned and runned-down country home with their busy city-dweller father. Their new home is infested and surrounded by mystical creatures, both within the shadows of their new dwelling and outside in the beautiful and lush forest. The characters are more charming than I remembered when I was a young child. Mei, a toddler, is the imaginative and curious little sister that really makes the audience giggle with excitement as Miyazaki presents her a genuine young explorer of their new surroundings. Satsuki is the brave and a caring older sister towards Mei, she is just as adventurous and curious about the world.
These sisters visit a strange mystical creatures who guard the forest and are only visible to the innocent eyes of these children. The king of the forest creatures, Totoro, teach these girls about nature, growth, and important lessons of life through their adventures and encounters to cope with their mother being the hospital.
Waiting in line prior to film viewing, many movie-goers were excited to see Miyazaki’s imagination on the movie screen as much as I did. One elderly woman, who was also part of the HIFF screening team, said, “I was also a fan of Miyazaki, and this is one was also a favorite of mines. I love that there is always an environmental theme to his films.” She always praised the vivid detail and subtle beauty that is found in his films. “A Miyazaki film is something quite wonderful and unique comapred to other animated films out there,” said the HIFF screening member.
The film was well worth the trip to the theater, even if I watched the film numerous times before. If you are a fan of animation, Japanese culture, or of Disney films, I would strongly suggest watching Miyazaki’s works. They are true classics that embrace complex themes in such a detailed and enchanting way.