Hollywood Reporter reviews PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA, the latest anime film from Hayao Miyazaki (PRINCESS MONONOKE), which screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Their bottom line assessment: “A superb work of Japanese fantasy from animation wizard Miyazaki that transcends age barriers.” The film is loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale “The Little Mermaid,” which previously inspired the Disney film of the same title.
A contemporary Japanese backdrop brings the Andersen story closer home, while the total absence of CGI work — the whole film is drawn by animators — heightens the film’s childlike charm. In Miyazaki’s fertile imagination, the ordinary and magical worlds blend into each other; both are full of marvels. Perhaps his most imaginative representation is the sea itself, which he transforms into a living, pulsating character. On another level, the sea can represent the subconscious mind bursting onto the land above. The tender mother-child relationship of Sosuke and Lisa, and Ponyo and her radiant Mother of the Sea, strikes a deep chord of universality.
Rival anime genius Mamoru Oshii also has a film scheduled for the festival, a “modern parable” titled THE SKY CRAWLERS.