Friday, November 30, 2012

Kokuriko-zaka kara / From Up on Poppy Hill

Kukkulan tyttö, sataman poika / Flickan på kullen, pojken i hamnen. JP © 2011 Chizuru Takahashi - Tetsuro Sayama – GNDHDDT. PC: Studio Ghibli - in co-production with Nippon Television, Dentsu, Haukhodo DY Media Partners, Walt Disney Studios Japan, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Toho. P: Tetsuro Sayama, Toshio Suzuki, Chizuru Takahashi. D: Goro Miyazaki. SC: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa - original story: Tetsuro Sayama - based on the shojo manga (1980) by Tetsuro Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi. DP: Atshshi Okui - Laboratory: Imagica Corporation, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan - Cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Digital (source format) - Printed film format: 35 mm (spherical), D-Cinema - Aspect ratio: 1.85:1. AN D: Katsuya Kondo, Kitaro Kosaka, Atsushi Yamagata, Akihito Yamashita. Key AN: Makiko Futaki, Shinji Otsuka, Takeshi Honda, Takashi Hashimoto, Hideki Hamasu, Atsuko Tanaka, Hiromasa Younebayashi, Hiroyuki Aoyama. Character designer: Katsuya Kondo. M: Satoshi Takebe. Theme song "Sayonara no natsu - Kokuriko-zaka kara" sung by Aoi Teshima. "Ue o muite aruko" (1961) sung by Kyu Sakamoto [this Japanese pop hit was famous in Finland, too, under the name "Sukiyaki", and it belonged to the repertory of many artists]. S: Koji Kasamatsu. Voice talents: Masami Nagasawa (Umi Matsuzaki), Junichi Okada (Shun Kazama), Keiko Takeshita (Hana Matsuzaki), Yuriko Ishida (Miki Hokuto), Rumi Hiiragi (Sachiko Hirokoji), Jun Fubuki (Ryoko Matsuzaki), Takashi Naito (Yoshio Onodera), Shunsuke Kazama (Shiro Mizunuma), Nao Ohmori (Akio Kazama), Teruyuki Kagawa (Tokumaru Rijicho), Haruka Shiraishi (Sora Matsuzaki), Tsubasa Kobayashi (Riku Matsuzaki), Aoi Teshima (Yuko), Goro Miyazaki (world history teacher). 91 min. Released by Cinema Mondo with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Mökkönen / Carina Laurila-Olin. 2K DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 4, Helsinki, 30 Nov 2012.

Kokuriko = coquelicot = corn poppy. The name of the girl's family's boarding house is Coquelicot Manor.

Hayao Miyazaki: ”From Up On Poppy Hill is a fresh portrayal of young love between a teenage girl and boy who are pure and straight as an arrow."

"We set From Up On Poppy Hill around 1963, the year before the Tokyo Olympics, at the time the baby boom generation began to be called 'today’s youth'."

"It was the beginning of a new era, and also a time when something was about to be lost. Our heroine Umi, the eldest daughter of a matriarchal family, is an eleventh grader in high school. She lost her father at sea, and helps her working mother by taking care of a large family of six, including boarders. Our heroes are Shun, chief editor of the school newspaper, and Mizunuma, the student council president. These two boys strike a skeptical attitude towards society and adults. They opt to be ‘cool cats’ - ‘bad boys’ - and would never consider being friendly towards Umi - they’re too cool for that."

"As the boys look to the future, Umi also gazes out at the distant horizon, awaiting the return of her lost father. Every day she hoists signal flags from the garden of an old mansion on the hill that overlooks Yokohama harbor. The nautical signal flags she raises show the letters U and W ('Safe Travels'). A tugboat that frequently passes below the hill raises a return signal flag. It has become a daily morning routine. One morning, the tugboat raises a different signal."

"Its flags read U W M E R, with a pennant for thanks. Mer is the French word for 'sea', and Umi means 'sea' in Japanese.

A wistful, gentle anime on teenage love. The obstacle: the boy discovers evidence that he and the girl he loves share the same father. But digging deeper, it turns out otherwise.

Finnish critics were not ecstatic, but I found a lot to like in this movie: - The visual motif of the naval signal flags - The sense of the Japanese being a sea-faring nation, with a stoical endurance of the destiny facing the sublime forces of nature (a basic Studio Ghibli theme expressed here in a novel way) - The stoical character of the protagonists, something with which a Finnish viewer can identify, because there is an affinity with the Finnish quality of sisu (endurance against all odds) - The great key sequences with the work party for renovating the cultural house called Quartier Latin are an excellent instance of what we in Finnish call talkoot (the word comes from Russian: толока, pronounced ta'loka); English terms cited by vocabularies include a bee and a barn raising. The best examples in Finnish fiction films are in the two film adaptations of Täällä Pohjantähden alla / Under the North Star. These sequences are the "spectacle" of this movie, and they are quite exhilarating. - The period detail is presented with tender care, without irony or nostalgia. - The girl's dream sequence is impressive. I often seem to like sequences of limited animation in movies realized with fully detailed animation. - The flashbacks explaining the complicated family histories are quite moving. - The songs are important and meaningful. - The sense of history is omnipresent: it is the age of the Cold War, the father has perished in the Korean War, and a family has been almost entirely wiped out by the nuclear bomb.  - One of the very themes of the film is the sense of history as embodied in the Quartier Latin house. - A further theme is about the new generations as reflections of the earlier ones: "when I see you I see my old friends". 

The visual quality was fine.

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