Movie Review: Laputa: Castle In The Sky

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Laputa — Castle in the Sky is the first movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki to be released by Studio Ghibli. Since 1986, it has garnered several awards and has been widely acclaimed, winning the hearts of audiences all over the world, and placing very high on a variety of top film lists in almost every category.

Like all Miyazaki movies, there is a history to the worlds inhabited in his stories. The narrative of each new world is revealed to us through the eyes of a character who learns about the world and its history as the story progresses.

In “Laputa,” a long time prior to the events shown in the film, flying cities once roamed the skies, bearing advanced technology and wise inhabitants. However, for unknown reasons they were all destroyed and the surviving inhabitants left to live on the ground, each generation forgetting more and more about the inventions and science of their ancestors, until the knowledge disappeared completely. All that remains is a legend of the last floating castle, “Laputa,” that continues to survive from half–remembered stories and unconfirmed sightings of this now apocryphal island.

The film begins when Sheeta, a girl held captive by the government, falls from a flying ship thousands of feet in the air. Sheeta’s fall is miraculously slowed down by a mysterious stone enclosed in her pendant, facilitating her landing safely in the arms of a young miner, Pazu.

The story then follows the young couple, as they meet and befriend pirate Dola and her sons, and try to deal with the antagonistic Muska, who seems to be working for the government.

Not uncommonly for Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki, the movie contains themes encouraging care of the environment and strong anti–war views. Like every project he touches, Miyazaki uses fully fleshed out and developed characters, with even the supporting cast having as detailed backgrounds and personal traits as Sheeta and Pazu.

Personally, it’s the supporting characters that I love the most, particularly Dola the pirate leader and the Laputa robots, and while the visuals are a true eye candy, the background locations, inspired by many different locales. Lend just as much of a special character to the story. The miners’ village, for example, was inspired by a Welsh mining town visited by Miyazaki in 1984.

Following the successful collaboration on Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind, Joe Hisaishi returned to compose the score, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere and cleverly accenting the scenes.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is definitely animation worthy of adult viewing. Even if the story and main characters fail to captivate you, you will be sure to enjoy the clever supporting cast and the sheer sweep of exquisite visuals. Miyazaki brings a smile of remembrance as well as a sting of longing for a return to the heart of childhood, once the only world we knew.

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FoxBoy2015's avatar
Arguably my favorite anime movie ever. Perfect 5/5.