The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is a breathtaking folktale brought to life with charm and finesse, and is, in short, an animated masterpiece.
As a movie watcher, I might be the most unbiased and least qualified to review The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. I know nothing of Studio Ghibli nor do I know anything about the film’s writer and director Isao Takahata. Apparently both are juggernauts of animation and prolific artists in the medium of film. Without any knowledge of either I must solely look at the film for how it resonates with me, and in short: it is a beauty.
A bamboo cutter is harvesting stalks in the forest when he comes across a tiny girl inside a lotus blossom within a sprouting bamboo shoot. He takes the little girl to his wife, who is childless, and they decide to care for the girl. Before they know it, the girl has transformed into a baby and rapidly grows into a striking young lady. Her father decides it must be the bamboo girl’s fate to be a princess, which she fervently resists while simultaneously respecting his wishes. The poised and mysterious princess attracts much attention and enchants all those who hear of her. In the end, only she knows of her ultimate fate and in facing it, she faces her true being.
Unfortunately I found it extremely difficult to find the subtitled original Japanese language version of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and could only watch the English dubbed version, though let it be known I always much prefer to watch a film in its original language. Luckily, production was able to get veteran actors for the English voiced version of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya so the film is able to stand on its own in English as well as Japanese.
Though aspects of the narrative within The Tale of the Princess of Kaguya are conventional, since its plot derives from an old Japanese folktale, the story is fantastical, emotional and enchanting and the antithesis of stale. The themes presented in the story are imaginative and engaging and the animation is complementary to the style.
I had long forgotten the days when animation was a medium to facilitate imagination, creativity and artistry – and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya revitalizes the medium for American viewers in a wonderful and masterful way.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Review