Monday, July 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) ***

NR, 110 min.
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki, Harauya Yamazaki, Monkey Punch (graphic novel), Môrisu Ruburan (characters)
Starring: Sean Barker, Dorothy Melendrez, Ivan Buckley, Ruby Marlowe, Sparky Thornton, Richard Barnes

“Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro” is the first feature length film by master animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The Oscar-winning animator directed the first television series of “Lupin the Third” as well as two episodes of the second series. He then went on to create Studio Ghibli, responsible for such amazing movies as “Spirited Away”, “Princess Mononoke”, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” and “My Neighbor Totoro”.

“Lupin III”, based on a Manga by Monkey Punch that follows the adventures of the grandson of Arsene Lupin from Maurice LeBlanc’s books, is not the strongest hero Miyazaki has tackled in his career, but he is one of the most popular. He’s a gentleman thief who is also a detective of sorts. The film is filled with a good amount of humor and a great deal of action.  The DVD case contains a quotation from Steven Spielberg claiming it as “…one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.” This quote is not verified, according to Wikipedia; but the movie is certainly in the same spirit of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones movies and his recent “The Adventures of Tin Tin”.

The movie embraces the somewhat chaotic storytelling style of Japanese anime in the 70s and 80s. This might be jarring for modern American audiences, but if you let the movie be itself, you can relax into it and enjoy. It also includes the typical opening and ending title songs of most Japanese anime, a tradition that will seem hokey to American eyes and ears, but unavoidable with Japanese animation from that time period. It’s all in good fun, though.

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