‘The Boy and the Heron’ takes globe by storm

The Boy and the Heron is a mystical story of trauma, loss and family. The film won director Hayao Miyazaki his first Golden Globe in Jan.
The Boy and the Heron is a mystical story of trauma, loss and family. The film won director Hayao Miyazaki his first Golden Globe in Jan.
Fair use image from GKIDS

Swirling flames dominate the screen as a young Mahito runs toward his mother’s burning hospital. The bright colors and intense music make it feel as though the audience is being engulfed in flames as well. Through the burning streets, the tragedy is seen in the entire town, but the emotions of Mahito overpower all. His deep connection to his mother and her tragic end drive the rest of the magical movie.

Diving into the world of The Boy and the Heron is a magical experience much like that of other Studio Ghibli films. It is full of wonder, mystery, and surprisingly large and very hungry parakeets. The whimsical animation and music of famous director Hayao Miyazaki has been a staple in the film industry for decades. This final film is a stunning semi-autobiography of Miyazaki’s career. 

From Mahito’s mothers death to the fantasy land that he travels to save her, the themes of corruption and pain run deep. Some of these themes reflect Miyazaki’s own life as his family was forced to flee to the countryside due to the war and his strong connection with his mother. 

In the film, Miyazaki is portrayed as the great uncle who rules the fantasy lands and keeps them from destruction. This represents the many movies and fantasy lands that he has created and overseen over the decades.

This is the first Golden Globe awarded to a Studio Ghibli film and it is a very special feeling.

— Toshio Suzuki

 The movie is a hit with both old and new fans with a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The opening weekend generated a staggering $127.1 million. The movie is so loved that it recently won the first Golden Globe for a non-English animated feature film. This was also Miyazaki’s first Golden Globe, his second major award as he won an Oscar for Spirited Away in 2021

In an interview with BBC producer Toshio Suzuki said, “this is the first Golden Globe awarded to a Studio Ghibli film and it is a very special feeling.”

As usual, the animation done by Studio Ghibli under Miyazaki’s close watch is an experience in itself. The film took 7 years to complete and required Miyazaki to come out of retirement for the final farewell and it is said to be the most expensive Japanese film ever made. 

Particularly stunning visuals were found in scenes with the sweet Warawara creatures. The Warawara are a fan favorite as they are adorable little marshmallow-looking creatures that mature and float into the night sky to be reborn as humans. The dancing light and expansive night sky were a highlight of the movie’s animation. 

The animation was done in Studio Ghibli’s iconic physical way though it was the creepiest of all movies produced by them. From hunched grandmas full of warts to a heron who turns into a little man in the strangest of ways, the oddities came as a surprise. Compared to movies such as Ponyo and Totoro with sweet nature animations The Boy and the Heron had aspects of these, but took a different direction. 

The Heron who is eventually forced to guide Mahito to his mother is arguably the creepiest of all characters in the movies. He morphs into a small, very large-nosed man. Going into the movie expecting a whimsical story about a boy and a bird, he was very unexpected. 

Though the movie had its strange moments, the visuals were stunning and the complex themes of trauma, war, and family made watching the movie a wonderful experience. The movie captivated audiences across the globe and will go down to be one of Studio Ghibli’s most successful movies yet. 

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    Ka'ron CloakFeb 6, 2024 at 3:42 pm

    I think the story is pretty spot on. As someone who works at a movie theater, the opening night for the debut to the big screens was hectic. It was always a pretty busy showing, fans loved it. The theaters were always packed out, and almost always sold all the tickets.