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Tales From Earthsea

Posted: March 17th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

A new Ghibli film is usually eagerly anticipated here at diskant but this one seemed to miss our radar. Directed by (son of Hayao) Goro Miyazaki and based on the books by Ursula LeGuin, it has plenty potential for awesomeness. However, I heard a lot of bad things about it and thus lacked the enthusiasm to push it up my DVD rental list. I got it this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the complaints have been from Earthsea fans but really, has there ever been a film adaptation that wholeheartedly pleased hardcore fans of the book? Having only read the first two Earthsea stories early last year, I had some vague understanding of the characters and locations and the powers of the wizards, which weren’t really explained at all in the film. I’m really not sure why they didn’t make a film of the first couple of stories first – they could have Harry Potter-ed up the Wizard school for the kidz and everything and then this film would have made a lot more sense.

Anyway, having not read the stories the film is based on, I found it all quite enjoyable and Ghibli-esque with strong hints of Princess Mononoke and a little bit of Castle of Cagliostro. Goro is clearly not his dad and this lacks a lot of the wonder and joy and oddness of Spirited Away or the book-adapted Howl’s Moving Castle but is certainly as good as non-Miyazaki Ghiblis like The Cat Returns. The tale of a wizard trying to restore balance to the world, an evil wizard trying to gain eternal life, a runaway prince pursued by shadows and a girl with very hidden depths, it’s a decent anime with enough spooky bits and action to keep it interesting. If nothing else, it’s really made me want to dig out my book and finish reading the rest of the Earthsea stories, which I’m sure have much less of a happy tied-up ending. In summary, Ghibli fans – go see; Earthsea fans – think of the new fans you’ll gain, not the changes to the story.

Here’s the trailer with subtitles. Therru singing this song in the fields is one of the loveliest bits of the film.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


1 Response to Tales From Earthsea

  1. Stan Tontas

    Reminds me I must find a copy of The Dispossessed. Haven’t read that since before I was old enough to appreciate it.