Roger Joseph Ebert is the all-time best, most successful movie critic in cinema history. He has a particular fondness for films by Japanese filmmaker and director of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki.
Miyazaki is known for his masterful storyteller and creator of Japanese animated feature films including Howl’s Moving Castle, Whisper of the Heart, Castle of the Sky, From Up on Poppy Hills, The Cat Returns, and many more.
Recently, he directed an animated fantasy film named The Boy and the Heron which will serve as his last full-length feature film (releasing on 7 September). Among these films, Ebert chose three as the best.
Roger Ebert Chose Top 3 Hayao Miyazaki Films
The first one on his list is a 1988 war drama, Grave of the Fireflies. The film is a masterpiece of world cinema whose message is very relevant in today’s context.
It is based on Akiyuki Nosaka’s own short story with the same title. Nosaka, who experienced the bombing of Kobe during his childhood, tragically lost two sisters to malnutrition, and his adoptive father (who was killed). This devastating experience haunted him throughout his life, leaving him with guilt over their deaths.
The second is My Neighbor Totoro. It is a 1988 animated Japanese fantasy about two girls who move to the country so that they can be near their ailing mother. There they experience adventures with the enchanting forest spirits who live nearby.
The movie beautifully captures the captivating landscapes of rural Japan, featuring lush forests, rolling hills, and clear streams. Within the anime, the natural world becomes a realm of wonder, which blends magic and reality together.
The third film on his list is Spirited Away – a 2001 Japanese animated adventure fantasy film. The story follows a somber 10-year-old girl who wanders into a realm ruled by gods, witches, and spirits— a world where humans can transform into beasts (during her family’s move to the suburbs).
For nearly two decades, the film held the record as the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. It also won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in the United States.
These are the three films of Hayao Miyazaki which is Roger Ebert’s favorite among all. But did you know, that one of the picks from Roger Ebert’s movies was sabotaged by The Walt Disney Company?
Disney Tried to Sabotage Spirited Away
In 2001, Disney’s connection with its Studio Ghibli collection was a bit frosty. Although Kiki’s Delivery Service enjoyed success on VHS, the failure of Princess Mononoke caused Disney to hesitate in dubbing and releasing more Ghibli films. Despite this, John Lasseter from Pixar (a business partner of Disney at the time), was eager to release these movies.
Lasseter really liked Studio Ghibli and he was also buddies with Miyazaki. He asked Disney to try to dub more Ghibli movies, especially Spirited Away (because he wanted to bring this movie to the US).
Disney’s boss, Michael Eisner, wasn’t too excited about his idea, but since Disney’s Pixar connection was not good, Eisner thought giving Lasseter a win could help. That’s how Lasseter got to be a producer for the English version of Spirited Away.
Watch The Grave of Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away on Prime Video.
Source: Far Out