Castle in the Sky (1986) IMDb

Creators

Miyazaki Hayao (writer-director).

Categorization

A “pure” adventure, effectively Miyazaki's answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and far richer in imagination. Softly political retro SF, containing Miyazaki's brightest treatment of boyhood fantasy and masculinity, mixed in with wartime atomic horror. Nearly refers to Gulliver's Travels (1726) by naming Swift, but the story is original, and vastly richer than Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon (1965).

Subject

Flying machines outnumber cars because of brutal terrain, even though black lightning cleared the skies centuries ago. A man sees a floating castle, the legendary Laputa, but no one believes him when he escapes from the storm that surrounds it. He dies mistrusted, leaving a son. Far to the north, a girl, she too an orphan, is contacted by agents of the authorities. They say they seek Laputa, whose miraculous technologies still threaten the peace of the world. A band of pirates looking for the castle's gold lay plans to interfere.

Commentary

Slapstick, moral dichotomy, simple characters, fear of on-screen death, and predestined romance: This swerves dangerously close to a Disney formula, but I'd marry one of those robots if I could. Brilliant music (the lyrics to the ending theme knock me out), and an anarchist “message” that actually works: Rule from afar corrupts. Benevolent concentration of power is the pipe dream, the castle in the sky. This is why the princess character happily throws away half the things that would traditionally make her live “happily ever after”: The castle, the military power, and thereby the political power associated with her heritage. Disney has never done that.

References here: Ghibli movie titles, The title of Princess Mononoke, Conan, the Boy in Future (1978), “Aloha, Lupin” (1980), “Chronopolis” (1982), “Explorer Woman Ray” (1989), Nadia of the Mysterious Seas (1990), Magic User's Club! (1996), Blue Gender (1999), Now and Then, Here and There (1999), Princess Arete (2001), Last Exile (2003), Planetes (2003), Xam'd: Lost Memories (2008).

Ghibli Japanese production animation mecha movie