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Saturday, 04 August 2007
Another Earthsea Travesty


Tales from Earthsea is finally being released in the UK a year after its Japanese release. Ryan Gilbey’s review suggests it is another disappointment:

Tales from Earthsea, based on two books in Ursula K Le Guin’s Earthsea series, is directed by the son of the great Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Apparently, Miyazaki Sr fell out with his son after advising him that he was not yet ready to direct. All I can say in this context is that you should always listen to your father.

The picture begins with patricide: the teenage Prince Arren of Enlad stabs the king for no apparent reason. (Maybe he told him not to become a film director.) Fleeing the scene of his crime, Arren meets the wizard Sparrowhawk, with whom he seeks sanctuary on a farm. This is the most enchanting part of the film, possibly because the sight of a wizard working a plough represents a gentle riposte to all the noisy summer blockbusters. Then there’s the charmingly quaint dialogue - “I love the smell of new-turned earth,” purrs Sparrowhawk - which articulates the story’s plea for people to get in touch with the earth, a point that would be made more forcefully if only the film could get in touch with its audience.

Unfortunately, Tales from Earthsea is too remote to hold the interest of viewers of any age. Even the central conflict, with Sparrowhawk shielding Arren from the evil wizard Cob, who wants the boy’s soul to help him achieve immortality, is downright confusing. The standard of the animation is as exemplary as ever, but this counts for nought without the rudiments of story and characterisation.

Read the full review, catch a three minute trailer from Japanese television, and see my previous comments on the TV mini-series.

Posted by bigblue on 04/08/2007 at 11:23 PM
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