Movie Reviews By Bil Antoniou
A bamboo cutter is plying his trade in the forest near his home when he stumbles upon something magical in a stalk of bamboo: a tiny princess, quietly waiting for him to take her home. He does, and the little cross-legged figure suddenly becomes a baby while being held by the farmer’s wife, and within days she is a toddler and grows to adolescence with enchanted speed, charming her way into the lives of the local farm children and experiencing all the pleasure of life on earth. When the farmer discovers a magical store of gold in the forest, he believes it is meant for him to give his princess Kaguya a better life, so he takes his little family to the big city where he purchases an estate and hires an aristocratic lady from a nearby estate to teach her the ways of great women. What this brings to our heroine is great sadness, she finds the manner of appearance and behavior of courtly women to be ghastly and is unhappy about the prospect of being married off to an old lord, inspiring her longing to go back to the enchanted land from whence she came (and the sequence representing this is stunning). Languid and easily paced, this beautifully animated film is rendered in muted watercolours that only add to the endearing nature of the story, taking its time through the movements of the plot before a gloriously beautiful ending. Reportedly the highest budgeted film ever made in Japan, the smooth screenplay is based on The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, considered the country’s oldest extant prose narrative.