A while ago we mentioned that Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao, was making his first animated film, an adaptation of THE FARTHEST SHORE, Ursula K. LeGuin’s third Earthsea novel. It seems that the film was the subject of some discord between father and son, but the film opened in Japan a few weeks ago and topped the box-office, even unseating PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN II, a titanic achievement anyone could be proud of.
LeGuin is known for not being overly thrilled by adaptations of her work — one recalls her violent repudiation of the admittedly crappy Sci-Fi Channel adaptation of the first two Earthsea books.
Now it seems Studio Ghibli has screened the film for LeGuin. Anime News Network has an account and links to such things as Goro’s blog where he recounts LeGuin’s reaction to him as âIt is not my book. It is your film. It is a good film.â? Certainly a polite response under the circumstances.
Now at her own website, has a fuller account of her feelings:
Much of it was beautiful. Many corners were cut, however, in the animation of this quickly made film. It does not have the delicate accuracy of “Totoro” or the powerful and splendid richness of detail of “Spirited Away.” The imagery is effective but often conventional.
Much of it was exciting. The excitement was maintained by violence, to a degree that I find deeply untrue to the spirit of the books.
Much of it was, I thought, incoherent. This may be because I kept trying to find and follow the story of my books while watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story, but with entirely different temperaments, histories, and destinies.
Her post has more including more hints of the behind the scenes maneuvering behind the film (Apparently it was the elder Miyazaki who originally approached her 20 years ago about makin the film.)
THE FARTHEST SHORE is a lyrical, dark work, one that troubled us greatly as a kid — Disney is slated to release the film here (although apparently not before 2009 due to rights issues with the SciFi version, according to LeGuin), and we’d certainly like to see it…someday.
“Much of it was, I thought, incoherent. This may be because I kept trying to find and follow the story of my books while watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story, but with entirely different temperaments, histories, and destinies.”
That’s pretty much the same reaction of Diana Wynne Jones (and her fans) to Howl’s Moving Castle. And that was at least directed by Miyazaki senior. It starred all the same characters from the book featured lots of elements and visuals but mixed them up in really confusing way that left people scratching their heads. I still loved a lot of it though as a fan of both Jones and Miyazaki.
I’m curious to see The Farthest Shore though someday. I’m shore it will at least be SOMEWHAT captivating.
Miyazki’s films often seem to have rather strange denouments, and I wonder to what degree this is a cultural thing? In any case, I’m looking forward to Goro Miyazaki’s entry into animated films. The one English-language review I’ve seen was pretty positive, despite acknowledging some of the same issues as Le Guin pointed out (namely, the rushed nature of the project and the resulting conventionality of the animation).