I have a confession to make: I live in the house of Hayao Miyazaki. A formidable row of Studio Ghibli DVDs by Miyazaki and other animators in his fold — from the Academy Award-winning fantasy Spirited Away to such lesser-known tales as Pompoko and Whisper of the Heart — line the bookcase, gathering frequent fingerprints and rarely dust, because they are often rewatched in my realm.
There are many reasons why they’ve become a part of my family’s day-to-day mythology: First, they are gorgeous, characterized by lush, hand-drawn animation; and second, they often segue into scenes of phantasmagorical, spewing forest spirits and living dust bunnies at the drop of a hat. They are peopled by wise young girls and granny figures, powerful protective forces and modest heroes. And when you see the image of Totoro — the rotund, owlish, rabbit-eared Cheshire creature in My Neighbor Totoro — you see a stalwart in the pantheon of beloved children’s characters.
But as much as I love my shelf of Ghibli gold at home, I wholeheartedly recommend marking your calendar for the Denver FilmCenter’s new series, Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli, a selection of fifteen films that begins today with screenings of the aforementioned Totoro and Whispers, as well as The Cat Returns, and continues in waves through October 14. “We haven’t done a retrospective of this size in quite some time,” notes FilmCenter programmer Keith Garcia. “A lot of people know about Studio Ghibli, but they’re mostly familiar with the more popular ones. There are lots of other titles that are always hidden underneath, and everyone needs a chance to see them screened in their original language.” For that, the big screen is the way to go.
The FilmCenter is located at 2510 East Colfax Avenue; tickets are $7 to $9.75 per film, or you can buy a festival pass for $75 to $100. For a complete schedule, which includes some dubbed screenings for young children, go to www.denverfilm.org.
Aug. 17-Oct. 14, 2012