Laputa Castle in the Sky
Studio Ghibli is known world wide for producing some of the best animated films in recent times, even western animation studios Disney and DreamWorks have pull inspiration from this film studio. Let’s also not forget that it tends to be Disney who releases all of the dubbed versions of Ghibli films – which his probably why the dubs are actually of a good quality. Even 25 years ago this studio was producing classic films and one that is often forgotten about is Laputa: Castle in the Sky. That is, until now as the team at Optimum Releasing have decided that this classic film is to be re-released in Blu-Ray and the re-release really goes to show how amazing the film is, considering it was made a quarter of a century ago.
Laputa is set in a parallel world, where huge sky ships, sky pirates and sky crime is something that occurs on a daily basis. Humans have dreamed of being in the air since the dawn of time, the ability to fly is a wish that many have and in this world whilst the ability for a human to fly does not exist, flying cities are believed to have existed in the past. Yet, it’s been such a long time since people lived in the sky, in large floating cities, that people have chalked the idea to legend and are now content with living on the ground. Yet, airships are still used by a large number of people and it’s in an airship where we find our heroine, Sheeta.
Sheeta is being held against her will in a huge airship by what looks like pirates and manages to free herself from her captors. Unfortunately, by freeing herself she ends up falling through the sky and tragically looks like she’s going to die in the first few minutes of the film. However, something bizarre happens and a small stone she wears around her neck prevents her from dying by slowing down her speedy descent to terrafirma. She luckily manages to find herself in the arms of Pazu, a young boy who works in the mining town that she finds herself in. As he’s young, naive and somewhat nice he looks after her and takes her back to his to rest after her ordeal.
It doesn’t take long for Pazu to find out what’s going on with his new young friend, Sheeta and in mere moments the pair are good friends and he’s protecting her from the people who are after her. He manages to confuse the group of professionals and takes Sheeta to a fatherly figure in the town. He manages to escape from the town and go to ground. In the mines of his town, the pair learn the truth about the stone and the mystery behind Sheeta’s magical stone.
It’s very easy to enjoy Laputa, it’s not a tale with any overarching storylines, there’s very little talk of the environment or trying to make the viewer think about the real world. It’s a nice and gentle tale that many adults could easily tell their children, it’s got the familiarity that most European fairy tales have and this could be possibly be because Miyazaki was arguably influenced by Gulliver’s Tales and many other staple European tales. This coupled along with the obvious influences of Northern England and Welsh mining towns of the late 20th Century make the film aesthetically very pleasing and comforting on the eye. Watching some of the cobbled streets in the main town in Laputa makes you feel like there should be Corrie’s music playing in the background.
Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Laputa without mentioning the inevitable, the Castle in the Sky. Many who saw Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle before Laputa will see two very distinct similarities. However, what needs to be noted is that neither film has anything to do with one another and in the original novel for Howl’s, the ending is nothing like the way that Miyazaki portrayed it. Yet, it’s the continued feeling of man to want to escape from the shackles of gravity and fly away from everything that makes the ending of Laputa as poignant as it is.
The Blu-Ray release of Laputa Castle in the Sky is something that is pure, visual perfection. The transfer between DVD to Blu-Ray makes a significant difference to the way the film is presented and it looks as good today as any modern anime release. This is something to really shout about as it’s a 25 year old film!
Laputa: Castle in the Sky is an amazing film, a truly brilliant piece of work that’s oft forgot, but easily on par with the rest of the major Ghibli releases.