Friday, September 28, 2007

Gedo Senki - Tales from Earthsea

I Love Le Guin's works. Le Guin comes across as a very careful writer whose every word needs to be read with care as it is written with a lot of thought behind it. The Earthsea series is one of my favourites in fasntasy series, actually make that all of literature. I have enjoyed reading those books and I am currently reading "The Left Hand of Darkness" which so far has lived up to its expectations. I have read Le Guin's books at different times in my life and everytime, I have discovered something profound in her writings.

For people who know me, they know how big a fan I am of Miyazaki's works. Usually dismissed by people (who I consider to be idiots for stereotyping) as children's films, Miyazaki's animated films are brilliant and a rare breed of filmmaking and I rate his works right at the top of my list of great films. His movies usually deal with subjects very human and earthy but set in worlds that are fantastic, to say the least. He would have the been the perfect director for visualizing the world of Earthsea. And that almost happened. I say almost because the Earthsea series was filmed by his studio, Ghibli, but was directed by his son, another Miyazaki. I had to see it.

But the release of the film was followed by a lot of criticism that just did not suit the expectations I had. Ursula herself bashed the film with strong words -

"Both the American and the Japanese film-makers treated these books as mines for names and a few concepts, taking bits and pieces out of context, and replacing the story/ies with an entirely different plot, lacking in coherence and consistency. I wonder at the disrespect shown not only to the books but to their readers." [Link]

That sealed the fate of the film. I no longer seeked it as much I had.

Of course, that does not mean I would never see the film. Authors are notorious for hating the interpretations of their books. And after I watched it today, I had only one feeling left for it - I hated it. That is probably the worst handling of the series that one can imagine (I haven't seen the American series yet but I am sure that it cannot be worse than this). Le Guin's criticism which seemed harsh is actually bang on target and perhaps, a little lenient. None of the wisdom that I have come to love about Miyzaki's films was on display. In fact, it was a two hour film of pointless fantasy with an inane attempt to instill some aspects of spirituality into it by lifting ideas from the books out of context and making it almost religious. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. This really is a forgettable piece and is best not seen.

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