Stock up on images from Hayao Miyazaki's new film

The Boy and the Heron: Miyazaki’s Winning Return (review)

After ten years of absence, Miyazaki returns with a splendid film. The spiritual epic of a young bereaved boy, which fascinates the eye as much as it questions the future and the legacy that the Japanese master will leave.

Ten years after THE Wind rises, which was accompanied by a hasty rumor of retirement artistic by Hayao Miyazaki, the arrival of the new film by the immense Japanese filmmaker constitutes a major event. Now aged 82, Miyazaki spent a long time looking after this twelfth feature film, around which there was a scent of mystery. We barely knew that the narrative would be based on the novel The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly and on a 1937 Japanese book by Genzaburō Yoshino titled And you, how will you live? (title retained by the film in original version). And it is indeed a fascinating crossroads of influences and tones that the director of My Neighbor Totoro And Princess Mononoke. If The wind picks up expressed with concern the filmmaker’s intimate doubts in the face of the destructive power of creation (we followed a brilliant engineer who had developed powerful fighter planes, which also evoked Miyazaki’s father, director of an aeronautical company during the Second World War). World War), The Boy and the Heron As for him, he is immediately striking with his universal breath and his communicative emotion. It all begins with a vast nighttime fire caused by a bombing which pushes young Mahito to run through the streets to try to reach his mother at the hospital. But fate decides otherwise and the boy’s mother dies in the flames. The astonishment that emerges from this introduction sounds like a tribute to Tomb of the Firefliesheartbreaking 1988 film (set as The Boy and the Heron during the Second World War) signed Isao Takahata, co-founder with Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli and died in 2018. Another autobiographical motif hovers over the film when we know that Hayao Miyazaki’s own mother suffered from tuberculosis and had to be treated until his death. Marked by mourning, the story then sees Mahito leave Tokyo with his father to settle in the village where his mother grew up. In the middle of a lush estate, the 11-year-old boy observes the newly formed couple of his father and his late mother’s sister. Feeling isolated, Mahito then meets a strange heron hiding in a tower; the animal, which initially appears aggressive, will gradually guide Mahito into a world populated by ghosts and magical secrets.

Miyazaki takes his time to introduce us to this universe with multiple ramifications where present, past, future, fantasies, dreams and nightmares collide, but the depth of this spiritual epic ends up absorbing us completely. Even more abundant and cryptic than that of Spirited Away, the fauna of the film brings together terrible parakeets and gentle elderly servants with shifting identities. The journey of the young hero summons in this Alice in Wonderland Or Pan’s Labyrinth, but the masterful deployment of the Miyazakian unconscious is definitely unlike any other. Beyond the environmentalist dimension dear to the filmmaker, the specificity of the film concerns the notion of transmission; has through the figure of a demiurgic great-uncle, The Boy and the Heron questions the future of the planet and wonders if it is possible to re-enchant the world. Miyazaki thereby questions his own destiny: will he find heirs or will the filmic universe he created disappear with him? Inhabited by these powerful questions, this fable which deals with survival becomes madly exhilarating. Far from any renunciation, the filmmaker leaves us free to interpret the last shots of this dazzling work. We expected no less from the great master of animation, who here seems more peaceful and inspiring than ever.

By Hayao Miyazaki Duration 2h04. Released November 1, 2023

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