The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness - DVD Review

'If you're the sort of person who feels as though they might be able to watch a couple of hours of Hayao Miyazaki working; drawing, thinking, creating the studio's output, then this is the film for you'

A portrait of life inside Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness is everything a fan could want of a candid look at the legendary studio. If you're the sort of person who feels as though they might be able to watch a couple of hours of Hayao Miyazaki working; drawing, thinking, creating the studio's output, then this is the film for you.

For those not so enamoured by Ghibli, you can arguably knock a star off at the end, though Mami Sunada's documentary does have enough comment on the creative process to make it worth your time. The 'madness' element of the title seems to be the key here. Just what is the creative force that drives Miyazaki and his compatriots to produce such good work? Is it almost a form of madness, a way of working that sees Miyazaki absorbed in all that he does, from tracking Japan's economic and social problems since the 2011 tsunami on a whiteboard in his home, to drawing the characters of The Wind Rises. The word's use in the title may initially seem a bit flippant - yes, there is a Totoro doll sitting at the meeting table, but whose daily meetings wouldn't that improve? - but actually there is some thought put into its application by Sunada.

As a Ghibli fan, Sunada's analysis though feels secondary. The studio operates almost exactly as you imagine it to, possibly with even less unnecessary modern refinement. Of course there is a cat, who comes and goes as he pleases, of course Miyazaki waves to the children in the studio nursery every day, of course he puts toy goats in his windows to delight them. It is as slightly mad (there's that word again) as Ghibli's films, and equally as warm; this is a family that goes to each others weddings, opens the door for the cat, exercises together. It's charming and positive and full of things that matter.

From the perspective of the Studio's films too, there is insight. Miyazaki thinks that Porco Rosso was 'foolish' and his labours through the highly personal The Wind Rises, produced during the filming of this documentary, add credence to this site's belief that it is one of his best films. The importance of producer Toshio Suzuki to the whole process is plain to see, whilst fellow Ghibli director Isao Takahata's process is revealed as drastically different, mainly by its absence. There is also a brief glimpse of the difficulties in passing the studio's ideas on to the next generation of creators and philosophers.

The whole thing is worldly wise, beautiful, inspired and, yes, a little mad. As a reflection of Ghibli and their films, it is perfect.





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.

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