The Hayao Miyazaki Collection: Laputa: Castle In The Sky - Blu-ray Review

'the characters appear noticeably different in appearance come the end, as if Miyazaki's ageing pencil could not help but reflect the new experiences of his charges'

Over a frantic two hours, Laputa: Castle In The Sky pulls out the entire toy box of children's film topics and has a good old rummage. Pirates, hidden floating worlds, the army, magic amulets, secret agents, the ability to fly and even an underground hermit all feature in Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 film, a riot of an adventure with two strong protagonists at its centre.

The jumble of influences and content is masterfully orchestrated by the director. This may be fairly predictable of tone (Miyazaki again rails against humanity's ability to destroy beautiful natural things) but it is so successful of content it is difficult to look away. The two orphaned protagonists, Sheeta and Pazu, carry a great deal of charm and genuine warmth as they search for the former's home; a legendary floating world, hidden in cloud.

It is frequently startling just how beautiful Miyazaki's creations still look. Will CGI animation produced today look this good in 20 years time? I somehow doubt it. Laputa is a sterling example of drawn animation, more beautiful than many of Miyazaki's own contemporary efforts actually, the late flight through the dragon's lair, where Miyazaki inverts lights and darks to great effect, being a particularly obvious example.

On a plot basis, the writer/director hits a level of stride here that felt absent from the slow NausicaƤ Of The Valley Of The Wind and is suppressed to bare basics in the next film in the set, My Neighbour Totoro. Sheeta and Pazu clearly embark on a journey which not only has a beginning, middle and end, but which also noticeably changes them. Perhaps it was just me, but the characters appeared noticeably different in appearance come the end, as if Miyazaki's ageing pencil could not help but reflect the new experiences of his charges.

There is too, as might be expected, some hidden depth to what could still be a classic fairy tale without it. The piratical troupe who at first kidnap Sheeta and then change their approach verge on a Freudian attachment to her, as they realise she has exactly the same traits as their matriarchal leader, Dola. That Miyazaki plays the connection for laughs, rather than take it any further, is to his great credit. Watch too for the reappearance of NausicaƤ's fox-squirrels; a meaningless design connection or a hint at shared worlds? Miyazaki by this point is not just imagining stories, he is creating a surreptitiously linked dynasty.

The Hayao Miyazaki Collection brings together all 11 of the director's feature films, from The Castle of Cagliostro to The Wind Rises, on Blu-ray for the first time. It is released in the UK on Monday 8th December 2014.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. What is the bit rate for the image and the storyboards? And what is the bit rate for the sound?

    1. Sorry: no idea on that one. I'm afraid I'm no technical expert when it comes Blu-ray.