It’s not unusual for a novel to be adapted into a film, but it’s always interesting when a classic is adapted by Studio Ghibli. Epic in telling and stunning in execution, this animated adaptation of Tales From Earthsea has just been released on Blu-Ray for your enjoyment. And we think it’s a worthy addition to your collection.
For anyone who is a fan of animated movies, but has never heard of Studio Ghibli, you are missing out on a fantastic wealth of movie gems. Disney and Pixar should bow down to these masters, because while these two companies have adapted to 3D animation, Studio Ghibli has continued to hand draw their films from scratch, to monumental acclaim and success.
Tales From Earthsea carries on this tradition. Based on the novel by Ursula Le Guinn, the film is an enchanted tale about self discovery and redemption, set in a mythical world where dragons and humans were once the same creature. Lord Archmage Sparrowhawk is the master wizard searching for the cause behind an imbalance in the land of Earthsea that is causing crops to fail, and humans to spot dragons close to their settlements.
After the Archmage rescues the troubled young runaway prince Arren, he joins Sparrowhawk’s quest and intertwines their destinies. With the help of a former Priestess Tenar and her daughter Therru, can the four of them defeat the evil Cob whose desire for immortality could destroy Earthsea?
You don’t even have to think about it to know this is a Studio Ghibli film. They have a style of animation that you don’t see elsewhere, whether from Hollywood or independent film companies. In the case of Tales From Earthsea, the dragons are drawn in a similar style to the creatures in Ghibli classic Princess Mononoke. That said, the PG rating will reassure you that this film is far more suitable for younger audiences, despite being quite similar in tone. Unlike many of Ghibli’s films Tales From Earthsea is noticeably devoid of humour, especially in comparison to the other Blu-Ray release this month, Howl’s Moving Castle.
Yes, the voice talent had a lot of dark and gritty material to work with. There’s something about Studio Ghibli that attracts some of the biggest English speaking names in the industry. This time around we have Timothy Dalton as Sparrowhawk while Willem Defoe chills us with his creepy take on the evil Cob.
For those who buy disks for the special features, this Blu-Ray release includes complete storyboards for the film, a featurette about the film’s soundtrack, a Behind the Studio look at Earthsea and an NTV Special featurette. All of which will be interesting for those who would like to enter into the world of film animation one day.
While ultimately this wasn’t my favourite release from Studio Ghibli, enthusiasts who are on the fence can have faith with the name Miyazaki being attached. Although not the one you think. Instead of Hayoa Miyazaki (Spirited Away etc), his son Goro took the helm instead, proving that talent runs in this family.
Who knows, maybe he’s the future of the studio?
Tales From Earthsea is out now on Blu-Ray.
See our review of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle, also out on Blu-Ray now.