The Tale of Princess Kaguya film review

The Tale of Princess Kaguya film review

By Emma Smith

This film is based on the classic Japanese folktale The Tale of The Bamboo Cutter. It is directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata. Isao Takahata has directed Grave of The Fireflies, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Only Yesterday, and so on.

    Summary (Spoilers alert, but some details are not present): The story starts with Okina, a bamboo cutter that finds a miniature girl inside a bamboo shoot. He and Ona, his wife decide to raise her as their own child, naming her “Princess”. She starts rapidly growing. Her rapid growing leads to her earning the nickname little bamboo from the other children in the village. Afterward, Okina finds gold and cloth in the bamboo grove and sees this as proof of Princess being divine royalty. Because of that, he plans to make her into a princess. Her life in the mountains ends suddenly, as she starts living in a mansion in the capital. She gets her formal name Princess Kaguya from a royal priest when she becomes coming of age. Her beauty grows, which attracts suitors but Kaguya is not interested. Later, five noble men are very interested in her. She turns them away while demanding impossible treasures from them to prove their sincerity. Two bring fakes and one dies trying to return. The emperor, too, becomes interested in her but she is not interested. She reveals she originally came from the moon; she believes it will reclaim her which leads to her depression. Kaguya is reluctant to leave Earth. Spoilers end.

I thought the film, in general, was enjoyable. It’s nice to see another director for Studio Ghibli. Additionally, seeing them base a film on a Japanese folktale was reassuring. It is nice to see them take interest in the story’s culture. The ending is emotional; you have been forewarned. The art looks hand drawn and old school. I thought the art style and the colors made it so expressive and flowing. The colors were vibrant and looked like water colors.

Princess Kaguya’s character was given a wealth of depth and I felt I could connect to her. The film gave a classic folktale character a good extent of personality and tried to expand her character by showing the emotions she feels in her trials. Her nobility, for example, was a burden to her and was displayed in a melancholy way. Leaving her family behind pulled at my heartstrings. For a film without a “Happily Ever After”, it was enjoyable.


All images are for promotional purposes only

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