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‘The Grudge’ Director Tackles Live Action Miyazaki Film

It was a slow news day for Hollywood today, so I decided to check out the news in other places of the world. While on my internet surfboard, a friend of mine tossed me a link to an article on Crunchyroll, detailing that there is a live action adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service in the works. The film is being helmed by The Grudge‘s director Takashi Shimizu. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because this has passed the pre-production stage and is already filming. A teaser trailer has been released recently, but I do warn you, the trailer itself is really lame and gives us absolutely nothing. Also, it’s in Japanese, so unless you are fluent in the language, you will literally say to yourself “What the hell did I just watch?”:

Also, the lovely folks at Crunchyroll have some set photos, which still gave more than what that trailer had to offer despite being older:

kiki's delivery service 1 kiki's delivery service 2 kiki's delivery service 3 kiki's delivery service 4

The film itself (the original one, at least) is about a young witch who leaves home at the age of thirteen. According to tradition, all witches of that age must leave home for one year, so that they can learn how to live on their own. Kiki, along with her talking cat Gigi, fly away to live in the seaside town of Korico. After starting her own delivery service (using her broom as the delivery vehicle), Kiki must learn how to deal with her new life.

I am both worried and excited for this film. On one hand, I absolutely adored the original animated film. The world Miyazaki created was said to be in an alternate Europe in the 1950’s, where World War II never happened. This makes sense, because even if the place is fictional, you can tell it had a very French vibe going on. The brilliantly composed soundtrack also has a very french influence, and the animation is very colorful and vibrant with a very lush color palette. The story itself is also very well written, because at its core it’s a beautifully crafted coming of age story, about a girl who is trying to find her purpose in life is and has to grow in to her own person to find it. The only complaint I have is that the film is a bit too light-hearted, and there is no real edge to it. But hey, not all films need to be directed by Darren Aronofsky. So if they are able to translate this into the “real world” successfully, then this film has some serious potential. However, this leads to the elephant in the room: the director.

Takashi Shimizu is a rather odd choice to say the least, given that the majority of his body of work deals with horror. It’s also interesting to note that he directed both the original Japanese Grudge film Ju-on, as well as the American remake. I saw The Grudge when I was younger, and from what I remember, aside from some creepy imagery, there was nothing that terrified me and it didn’t have any memorable moments. Horror is the opposite of what Studio Ghibli is. Imagine if Pixar asked Wes Craven to direct a live action adaption of Up. It just doesn’t make any sense. Then again, Gore Verbinski did The Ring and then later did Rango. So who knows? Maybe the formula works both ways.

The biggest thing that I keep asking myself is, “Do we really need a live action adaptation?” I mean, the original animated film is a masterpiece by itself. When you want a live action adaptation of something, you want it because it brings that property to life. This is problematic because half of what makes Kiki’s Delivery Service great is the animation. There is a kind of quality that all Studio Ghibli films have, that already makes them very much alive, arguably more alive than any live action film. The exaggerated reactions and expressions of the characters, as well as getting lost in the beautiful setting and set pieces, has a certain kind of energy that feels like it was only meant for animation, and animation alone. So how do you bring something to life that is more alive than the physical world? And why was a horror director chosen to attempt to translate this very innocent and light hearted animated world? I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see…

On a side note in regards to the pictures of Kiki herself… WHERE THE HELL IS HER SIGNATURE RED BOW?! Sorry, I had to let out my juvenile fanboy.

What are your thoughts fellow OOUies? Whatever they are, comment below and let One of Us know!

Via Crunchyroll