so i just got back from the tale of the princess kaguya and i know we’re only three months through but this is the most beautiful film i’ll see all year
so this girl from a shining bamboo shoot comes into the world and the couple who find her hold her in their hands and love her completely, and the first scenes where they watch her as she’s growing and crawling and crying and walking and smiling and running and laughing, are so beautiful, so kind, so fond of all these characters. the magic in the story is gentle and comical and matter-of-fact because everything else is quietly astonishing
like literally every frame, like how the shadows of bamboo fall on shoulders and stooped backs, the flickering stillness of birds, how flowers shiver as they’re unfurling, the hushing and waving of grasses, the soft deep hissing of warm storm-rain, how eyes look before they weep, the lines of age and toil and smiling in people’s faces. it gets babies and little kids just right, the wriggling of arms and legs, the rocking and burbling, the clumsy grasping hands, all the crooked energy that doesn’t quite know where to go–but the way it’s drawn makes everything new, and you get caught up in the smallest things, like kaguya imitating a frog, or how fabrics move when she wraps herself in them, or how the moon lies on water
(there’s a part when kaguya breaks down, and the animation does too, into this frenzy of charcoal and watercolour strokes rushing at you, like the land’s turned hostile and snarling and shadowed, and it’s totally mesmerising)
it’s not only rosy nostalgia, because life in the wild remote place is tenuous, it’s hard, it also has to be endured, winter comes and brings snow and bitter cold and desperation. but spring always follows after, and it’s always unexpected when life comes back.
and there’s also the ancient customs and duties of becoming a princess, which are gorgeous and hollow and patriarchal and like a cage, and there’s no easy way for kaguya to be what her father wishes and also free and happy, and you love her most when she’s finding ways to slip between the bars, quick and laughing. but there’s this sense you can’t get away from, that it’s grieving for her while she’s living, and it’s also a story about being alive for just a short time, and how you love things fiercer because they’re disappearing before your eyes
don’t know what i expected but it wasn’t something this strange and beautiful and wistful and shattering and alive