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The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness

Review Date:

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Released by: Optimum Releasing

Age Rating: PG

Region: 2 - UK

Length: 118 minutes

Subtitles: English

Audio: Japanese 2.0 Stereo

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The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness


A fly on the wall documentary looking at the inner workings of Studio Ghibli, one of the most successful animation studios in the world.


Last night I finally watched the film The Kingdom of Dreams & Madness. A fly on the wall documentary looking at the inner workings of Studio Ghibli, one of the most successful animation studios in the world. This film was made during production of two titles that were set to be released simultaneously (things don't always run on schedule as you will discover). Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, out to own already, and Isao Takahata's The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, not yet available in the UK.

The film mainly follows Hayao Miyazaki, in my opinion one of the greatest creative minds of all time, and gives a very honest portrayal of him and his working life and relationships. There is a definite rivalry between the two directors, Miyazaki and Takahata, and the history of their relationship and rise to success is covered in great detail.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Miyazaki is an eccentric man, who seems at a loss at the state of the 21st Century. He smokes like a chimney, works extremely hard at his craft and is an absolute perfectionist, expecting nothing less from his staff. Yes he has an ego, but rightfully so in my opinion he is one of the hardest working people I can imagine, he works long days, 6 days a week, putting so much of himself into everything that he does. The first line of his official retirement statement read. 'I want to work for ten more years'

Despite his sometimes grumpy outlook during the film (grumpy is putting it lightly). I do believe he loves what he does. He is a man of simple pleasures and routine. He loves to wave to the children at the on site nursery every day, he loves to walk among nature, taking in his changing environment and all his surroundings daily, the studio cat 'Ushiko' brings him great joy. I love the stretching He and the other animators do regularly throughout their day.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

During the making of the film he seemed to become quite disheartened and demotivated by the project. However after receiving a letter from a man who had encountered Myizaki's Father during WW2, he begins to find his way again and you can see much of his Father in Jiro Horikoshi, the lead in The Wind Rises, arguable as I direct result of this. I will not say too much, but it is quite moving as you can see there is turmoil within him. His love for airplanes, particularly war aircraft, is in direct conflict with his anti war stance, something he struggled with in his relationship with his Father who built parts for planes during the war.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

There were a few bits that I found particularly inspiring and insightful. On the wall of the studio there is a sign that reads.

Please quit if you

1. Have no ideas
2. Always rely on others
3. Shirk responsibility
4. Lack enthusiasm

I thought these were really great guidelines for anyone, doing anything, in a new job, at school, working for yourself, in your relationships. So I will endeavour to always be full of ideas, to rely on myself, accept and take on responsibility and always always be enthusiastic. How can you fail?

In one of his darker moments Hayao Miyazaki states.

"Problems begin the moment we are born. We're born with infinite possibilities, only to give up on one after another. To choose one thing means to give up on another. That's inevitable. But what can you do? That's what it is to live."

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

As someone who is struggling to carve a path and make decisions of what to do with their life this really resonated with me. Even at 24 I look back at all the missed opportunities I have had, and have this gut wrenching feeling of unknown and regret, but you can't do everything, and living is owning these choices.

In the final scene of The Wind Rises Jiro's wife calls to him, 'You must live'. and Yes we must, I think if we were all lived a little more like Miyazaki full of dreams & madness I think the world would be a better peaceful, more magical place.

Rating: 8/10


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