22 September 2005

Hayao Miyazaki, first interview in 10 years

In his first public interview in a decade, Hayao Miyazaki speaks to Xan Brooks of Guardian Unlimited, in light of the release of Howl's Moving Castle. Interestingly, as an artist of accolade for over 40 years, he seems to touch on the attempt at heartening the masses of Japan (and the world). In these last few paragraphs he speaks pessemistic about the power of art to help heal the world. To be honest, Miyazaki is the last person I would expect to hear this from. His films are beautiful and magical things that have reached into me — Princess Mononoke in particular.

Read the full interview here, or check out this passage:—
His is a very serene and contented brand of fatalism. He talks about New Orleans, and Hurricane Katrina and insists that the same thing will happen in Tokyo. There are a lot of water-gates in the city, and the river runs past his home. He smiles and taps ash from his cigarette. There are too many people in the world, he says, and too many wrong turns along the way. At the age of 64, he gives the impression that the planet is doomed but he'll soon be leaving it, and not a minute too soon.

"Personally I am very pessimistic," Miyazaki says. "But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can't help but bless them for a good future. Because I can't tell that child, 'Oh, you shouldn't have come into this life.' And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making."

Perhaps this is why he tells children's stories. "Well, yes. I believe that children's souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations. It's just that as they grow older and experience the everyday world that memory sinks lower and lower. I feel I need to make a film that reaches down to that level. If I could do that I would die happy."

I ask if he feels he's managed that already and he chuckles and shakes his head. Nor does he feel that film can be employed as a force for good. "Film doesn't have that kind of power," he says, gloomily. "It only exerts its influence when it stirs patriots up against other nations, or taps into aggressive, violent urges."

This is a black diagnosis indeed. But then, inexplicably, Miyazaki's mood lightens. Perhaps it's the sunshine, or the cigarette, or the fact that the interview is almost over. "Of course," he relents, "if, as artists, we try to tap into that soul level - if we say that life is worth living and the world is worth living in - then something good might come of it." He shrugs. "Maybe that's what these films are doing. They are my way of blessing the child"


lvx23 said...

This sentiment does seem a bit surprising coming from someone who's films seem so uplifting and transcendent. Though when I'm brutally honest with myself about my assessment of the glodal situation I too inevitably come back to the feeling that there are simply too many people, and that nature is in the process of correcting this imbalance.

Fell said...

Something I am always on the fence about is the whole concept of Nature righting itself out. I suppose it's natural, but there always these debates about G@D being involved and justice and what have you. Is it more akin to a series of algorithms just acting/reacting to elements of the earth or is there something more ineffable at work?

I like to think that I might be able to make a better difference in the world. I am really enjoying the RGIA reading workshop Father Jordan Stratford has going on currently as it's teaching me concepts about individuation and the concept of a "mythic soul," so to speak.

One element that has come up recently, which I have yet to write him back yet, is charis ("grace"):

This is Sainthood, the ability to radiate your own gnosis to others, and overcome the limitations imposed on you by the Archons.

Sounds like a noble goal to me, even if I can't fix the world's problems. It's hard not to let the self-destructive disposition of humanity get myself down, but I guess it's all a part of the game we call Life.

Kylark said...

I am a huge fan of Miyazaki's work. It is so beautiful and touching, playful and subtle. His films inhabit a universe where there is no good and evil, only conflicting motivations. I think this is an incredibly powerful and important message for children to learn.

I don't know why he's so pessimistic and sad. Perhaps he's depressed; many artists are. I think he once said that he didn't want children watching his films too often, because it gets them too accustomed to living in imaginary worlds.

Fell said...

I would hope that it's not because he didn't make as large an impact as he perhaps was hoping for? The world is such a chaotic place that even affecting a thousand people is a huge achievement. And I am sure he's touched a hundred times that with his films, if not more.

In the end, I hope he's content with the life he's led, at least.