We’re fortunate to be alive in a time when Hayao Miyazaki still makes movies. With masterpieces like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle under his beard, the 82-year-old Japanese director is a legend.
After eleven years since the release of The Wind Rises, Miyazaki has returned to the screen with The Boy and the Heron, his most recent picture. It’s simple to understand why reviewers and viewers who have already had the opportunity to see this animated fantasy movie have given it unanimous praise. But more than anything, I have conflicting emotions.
Anyone who has watched this movie will attest to its beauty. Years went into the creation of this film, which Miyazaki worked tirelessly to complete. Unimaginable talent is displayed behind the scenes. Nobody does shoddy work on an animated film, especially one from Studio Ghibli.
The Boy and the Heron is a stunning film in every shot. It’s a stunning textural display that must be viewed in a theater. The movie exudes the magic and mystique that one would expect from a Miyazaki production. You always wonder where these roads will take our protagonist Mahito and what historical events led to the locations he goes through as he explores the uncharted.
Mahito’s mother perishes in a hospital fire in an early scene. He was defined by his regret and anguish since he was unable to stop it from happening. Natsuko, the younger sister of Mahito’s deceased wife, is the new bride. This seems to be the emotional center of the first act for the most part. As Mahito tries to accept his pregnant stepmother, you can sense their tension.
But she leaves the movie very quickly. After that, The Boy and the Heron set off on an adventure that only barely mentions the plot. Character exchanges between Mahito and Natsuko don’t have the resonance and staying power the plot demands.
Exploring Enigmatic Encounters in ‘The Boy and the Heron”
The Boy and the Heron invites you to become involved in a variety of interactions as Mahito encounters several individuals while traveling. He runs across his great-uncle as well as Kiriko, a seafarer, and Himi, a woman with magical abilities.
We don’t learn enough about the supporting individuals for them to make an impact, despite the possibility that each of his connections with them would have been distinctive and intriguing. With an adventure narrative that depends on these ties to seem meaningful, the character interactions feel hollower than they should.
The Boy and the Heron, on the other hand, overflows with fascinating creatures. A heron in the middle of it all tells Mahito that his mother is still alive. Mahito follows this on a fantastic journey. He sets off to find out if his mother is still alive, and in the process enters a strange new realm filled with exotic animals.
Some of the imagery is startlingly explicit, and there are characters and concepts that occasionally seem out of character with the rest of the movie. Dark, unsettling concepts are scattered all around. However, they are never explored in the film for a length that would detract from the overall impact.
The movie suffers from a lack of emotional resonance, though. Before her passing, Mahito’s mother is never seen. You may understand why Mahito is trying so tenaciously to see his mother once more, yet knowing her before she passed away would give us more time to mourn. As it is, we are never really sure of who she was.
Another impressive feature of The Boy and the Heron is the decisions Mahito makes in order to achieve his objective, yet his expertise is lacking. Mahito doesn’t win our affection, and we have no other reason to stick with him except our sympathy. And if Mahito and Himi’s last exchanges are heartfelt, the path leading up to them is not very compelling. The conclusion had all the makings of a fantastic conclusion, but it fell short.
The Boy and The Heron is a visually stunning yet temperamentally dubious movie. Since it is a Ghibli film, it will undoubtedly have supporters and detractors in its current state. I found that the lack of emotional connection diminished the whole experience and made me yearn for a more developed movie.
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