Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

10:39:57 pm , 476 words, 2436 views     Categories: Animation, Movie

Revisiting Palme

For those of you who, like me, couldn't get enough of the music in Palme no Ki - a stream of a recital of Ondes Martenot pieces by Takashi Harada from 2002. Rewatching the film today I think I might have been able to spot a few places that look like they might have been done by Hisashi Nakayama, mainly scattered shots of smoke. I was also on the lookout for Hideki Hamasu's bit, and the part with the big dinosaur looked like kind of a shoe-in, though it seemed like a lot of great work for him to have been listed third-to-last. I've never been able to figure out Michio Mihara from the movement, though. In a movie as assiduously corrected as Palme he's too hard to pick out. It's his drawings that are great. Other than that, of course, the real star of this film is Toshiyuki Inoue. Though there are plenty of other films where you can see loads of his great work, this one has it in what seems like unusually large helpings, and it's tremendously great stuff. The scene where Popo tries to free Palme of his roots is surely one of the best scenes drawn anywhere in the last few years.

I have to admit that the serious Takashi Nakamura grows on me the more I see this film. I can't think of anybody else who's made animation that is as psychologically probing as him, transposing as he has here the Pinocchio story into a film examining various forms of childhood trauma and how they affect different people in different ways. There was a period a while back when I was ill and thinking a lot about mortality, and I had to stop watching Fantastic Children, which I was trying to follow, because it was making me sick to my stomach. Watching the show felt like staring into the face of death. I got lost in the forest once, and it was a similar feeling to that. The best way I can describe it is: your insides go white and cold. There are certain things you don't want to be reminded of at times like that. Nakamura has an uncanny ability to create drama that dwells in that liminal place, to evoke feelings that no other director can evoke. There are few enough people willing to tackle things this head-on, and in the end what I most want to see is filmmaking of this kind that attempts to tackle the experience of being human in a psychologically sensitive, honest and nuanced way, so it's a precious talent he has and I hope he gets to make more films. Or at the very least, that other people begin to go in this direction. Animated filmmaking tends to be too confined to the broad strokes while only providing psychological nuance in token amounts.


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