Tales from Earthsea
It took 4 years to get this film released in the US. It is part of the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin, and the first anime adaptation by Studio Ghibli. Although Hayo Miyazaki wanted himself to direct the film, it landed eventually in his son's hands.
Something bizarre has come over the land. The kingdom is deteriorating. People are beginning to act strange... What's even more strange is that people are beginning to see dragons, which shouldn't enter the world of humans. Due to all these bizarre events, Ged, a wandering wizard, is investigating the cause. During his journey, he meets Prince Arren, a young distraught teenage boy. While Arren may look like a shy young teen, he has a severe dark side, which grants him strength, hatred, ruthlessness and has no mercy, especially when it comes to protecting Teru. For the witch Kumo this is a perfect opportunity. She can use the boy's "fears" against the very one who would help him, Ged. Written by Anime News Network
Tales from Earthsea feels like Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It is an episodic film, at some points visually impressive that parades its heavily structured script into a loose series of events.
The story of Archmagic Ged and prince Arren is not an ordinary adventure. Arren has a dark side, revealed dramatically in the first few moments of the film. Their fantasy adventure to a town who buys children as slaves is a wandering journey through meticulously ornamented vaults and buildings that accelerate the feeling of claustrophobia.
The film narrative, though, is linear. The archmagician will always protect Arren, and save him from his misfortunes -whereas Arren forms a chaste relationship with a girl that seems to have secrets of her own.
The feeling of a town under distress and a world of decay is given effectively mainly by the supporting characters: ladies who don't hesitate to betray their benefactor for money, and magicians who have lost their magical powers.
ne of them appears as a beautiful young wizard with a man's voice in an old castle. He is desperate for immortality, and able to shake Arren's convictions about his saviour, in the third and most powerful act of the film.
Tales from Earthsea excites interest as a a fantasy story (and involves a superb orchestral score by Tamiya Terashima), but leaves drama and twists on the background.
It seems no coincidence that the most important blending of man and nature, so prominent in Hayo Miyazaki's film, comes here only in one scene, prince Arren's wonderfully visually constructed nightmare.
Tales from Earthsea, 2006
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Production : Studio Ghibli
Animation director: Takeshi Imamura
Music: Tamiya Terahshima
Running time: 115'