Blu-Ray Review: Castle in the Sky (1986)

c8ace51c Blu Ray Review:  Castle in the Sky (1986)

Laputa: Castly in the Sky was Hayao Miyazaki’s first film put out by his Studio Ghibli production company.  The ground-breaking effort set a standard for later films such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004).  From themes, to animation to the characters and the soundtrack, this fingerprint is easily identified in his subsequent works.

In a featurette titled “Creating Castle in the Sky,” Miyazaki credits his childhood dreams for inspiring him to create his films.  “Flying in adventure stories like Laputa was my childhood dream…I wanted to create a sci-fi adventure.” Several other influences can be identified such as the name “Laputa” which has no translation in Japanese but is the name of a floating island in the Jonathan Swift tale “Gulliver’s Travels.”  (Although, it is believed that the name Laputa was deleted from the title for international audiences due to its negative meaning in some of the Latin languages). Medieval and gothic architecture can also be seen in the buildings in the film as well as a direct reference to a Welsh mining town, which Miyazaki had visited just before production started.

What makes Miyazaki special for me is that his films can be enjoyed by a wide range of audiences. He doesn’t pander to the younger demographic as shamelessly as other directors. His is more subtle, and he carries it off in a way that doesn’t insult the intelligence of more sophisticated viewers. Themes that range from young love to nature vs. technology will satisfy young minds but also challenge them without necessarily going over their heads. His stories are true adventures, journeys into the fantastic. He likes to blow the lid off your subconscious and introduce you to ideas that maybe you’ve never thought of or just never thought you’d see on your TV.

Being the first, Castle in the Sky relies more on story plot and scenery than character development, which means it’s a little long for some of the younger viewers and maybe a little less exciting. Today’s kids might find it hard to stay focused on this journey as attention spans have gotten shorter. But it’s still a great film and definitely entertaining if one manages to stay along for the ride.

Video:  The transfer looks great, considering it’s a film from 1986. Don’t expect the latest in animation quality as it is Studio Ghibli’s first but they still did an excellent job preserving Miyazaki’s signature art for today’s audiences.

Audio:  This version is the dub track done in 2003 starring Anna Paquin, James van der Beek, Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill. Andy Dick even plays one of the supporting characters and he, along with the rest, did an excellent job with the voice overs. The soundtrack is beautiful and uplifting, definitely of the same vein of that which can be found in some of Miyazaki’s later work like Totoro.

Bonus Features: Nothing major, a commentary, sketches and interviews, interesting stuff for the die-hard fan.

Miyazaki is a master of his art and this debut film is an excellent example of how truly great he is.  Rating:  

Castle in the Sky Theatrical Trailer [HD]

0 Blu Ray Review:  Castle in the Sky (1986)
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