Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.
Castle in the Sky aka 天空の城ラピュタ or Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta
dir. Hayao Miyazaki (1986) scr. Hayao Miyazaki cin. Hirokata Takahashi
In 100 words: Animation has never looked more ravishing and more complex than in the hands of Miyazaki, and his pinnacle is this gorgeously rendered film that instantly recalls the best of Spielberg and Lucas. Adventure, mythology, and science fiction blend together so seamlessly with Miyazaki’s complicated and shaded villains, an adorable hero and strong-willed heroine, and of course his trademark visualization of the thrills of flight. But what pushes this film past his other great work is the unmatched beauty and detail he imbues in his floating paradise and the sad implication it has about human nature and our capacity for genius and recklessness.
Other Movies for Context: Miyazaki is a genius and his oeuvre can fill an entire list of the greatest animation films ever: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) unveiled a serious artist concerned about the environment, and My Neighbor Totoro (1988) gave us the most adorable creature ever to be thought up. Among his most recent efforts, Spirited Away (2002) remains a cornerstone of animation and how the West came to love it and Miyazaki’s legacy.