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A Birthday Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

Last week, Studio Ghibli’s most adored animator and storyteller Hayao Miyazaki turned 75 years of age. Happy Birthday Hayao Miyazaki!

For over forty years Miyazaki’s spellbinding feature length animations have been pleasing the critics, and capturing imaginations of both children and adults from all corners of the world.

Chihiro Ogino in Spirited Away. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

Chihiro Ogino in Spirited Away. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

With a filmography that consists of some of the greatest masterpieces in cinematic history, Miyazaki’s films try to understand the human condition. He never studied filmmaking, yet his work is highly accomplished with an approach that is lead by emotion and intuition.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

In a Miyazaki film he gives his character a goal and keeps it simple. His characters begin flawed, and end flawed. The experience blossoms their outlook on the world and what they gain is nothing material, but a new-found wisdom, which connects them to their world, and liberates them in a spiritual sense.

Princess Mononoke. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

Princess Mononoke. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

Miyazaki’s stories are not about the character winning, they are about the character growing.

It can be seen, reflected in his films, both his social and spiritual beliefs. Miyazaki believes in the notion that there is a spiritual connection between all of nature, with that connection extending to humans as well — as they too are part of nature. Tenderness and savagery co-exist in a Miyazaki character, and he bases these aspects of character on truth and reality.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. (Image: Criswell via Screenshot/YouTube)

His focus is what can be understood in the human condition, regardless of culture. This explains why his films have such a wide reaching audience.

Lewis Bond’s fantastic 17 minute video essay, The Essence of Humanity, conveys Miyazaki’s approach.

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