Hayao Miyazaki, one of the greatest names of the modern animation, granted a rare interview to New York Times earlier this month. The famous director talked about animation, retirement, and the upcoming Studio Ghibli movie that led him out of retirement.
“I believe that the tool of an animator is the pencil,” says Miyazaki, who isn’t a big fan of modern technology. The director is working on a new movie at 80. He came out of retirement “because he wanted to” and the new movie, announced in 2016, is titled How Do You Live?. When asked how he jokingly says that this isn’t something he has an answer to.
Studio Ghibli, where Miyazaki spent most of his career, was founded in 1985. Miyazaki was a co-founder, together with Yasuyoshi Tokuma (of Tokuma Shoten) and Toshio Suzuki, a producer. The studio’s first film was Laputa: Castle in the Sky, which came out in 1986. My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies followed a year later. It’s worth noting that these 2 movies came out together, even though their themes are quite different. Although Miyazaki directed Totoro, late Isao Takahata direct Grave of the Fireflies. Over time studio gained financial stability and made quite a few successful movies in Japan. But, Miyazaki remained fairly unknown outside of Japan until Princess Mononoke came out in 1997.
Hayao Miyazaki – Brief History
The director first retired in 1998. A year later he came out of retirement to direct Spirited Away. The movie went on to win the 2002 Academy Award for the best-animated feature. He began his career in Toei Animation, where he also met his wife, Akemi. The pair worked together on Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon and married in 1965. She retired to take care of their children, two sons Goro and Keisuke. Keisuke is a printmaker, but Goro is a director. He was cited saying that his father “gets full marks as a director, but zero as a father”. However, Hayao recently praised Goro’s latest movie Earwig and the Witch.
In 2013, Miyazaki retired again after the release of The Wind Rises. At the time Studio Ghibli also shut down its production department. He had directed 11 movies in 34 years. This time, the retirement lasted 3 years, and in 2016 How Do You Live? was announced. The movie still doesn’t have a release date, but Miyazaki doesn’t expect it to be finished for another 2 years. The movie draws inspiration from a 1937 novel by Yoshino Genzaburo.
In his long career, the director often used humanistic themes, paired with environmentalism. Although he held Marxist beliefs at one point, he doesn’t like having his work framed by ideology. But, the idea of co-existing with natural work is generally present, as a sort of homage to the time gone by. In addition to directing, he also wrote screenplays and manga.
If you’d like to read more of Hayao Miyazaki’s interview with the New York Times and learn a bit about the history of Japan and the impact it had on culture, head on over to their website.
Featured image: Spirited Away ©Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki ©CC