The Boy and The Heron
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki.
2023, Japan, 124 min.
Christian Bale, Robert Pattinson, Florence Pugh, Mark Hamill.
“Partly based on Miyazaki’s own childhood, it begins in Tokyo during World War II where a young boy witnesses the bombing of the hospital where his mother is an inpatient. Cut to a few months later and Mahito and his father have moved to the countryside, where dad has remarried Mahito’s aunt Natsuko. Here, Mahito must come to terms with his mother’s death, and accept his new family. Which is where the magic starts. After being taunted by a frightening heron… Mahito discovers a boarded-up tower in the grounds of the house. Despite warnings that the tower is bad news, he’s drawn in by its sinister aura. Soon Natsuko is also taken by the tower and Mahito realises that he has to save her. Inside, he meets massive people-eating parakeets, a helpful, robust fisherwoman, adorable and benevolent marshmallow-looking creatures, and a girl named Himi who has magical fire-rendering powers. This enchanted world oscillates between light and darkness. Heavier themes of grief and war are balanced with funny moments…. With sprinklings of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pan’s Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland, Miyazaki has conjured up another fantastical adventure that meditates deeply on mortality. As the magical and the real worlds intersect, life gains new meaning for some of his characters…. Jaw-dropping visuals, tender moments, and a pinch of comedy make it the perfect treat.” —India Lawrence, Time Out