The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata, is a terrific retelling of the Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. The thematic foundation of the film is the pressure of social assimilation on individuality and the longing for a real home. These themes were powerfully reinforced through the film’s eloquent visual narrative.

True Home

The straw house the family initially resided in was featured prominently in the movie. This was to establish its eventual importance to Kaguya when she began desiring a simpler life away from the expectations and pressures of becoming a princess. Despite the lavishness of the new mansion, this quaint straw house was always home to her. It represented her happiest moments spent frolicking the woods with her father and among her friends.

Another worth of note are the soft curves present in these shots. The shape of the house, the hill and the path are all curved. The film made a point to present these in order to provide contrast to the straight line heavy architecture of the mansion. Straight lines commonly feel strict and rigid, which are moods quite fitting to the restrained life Kaguya lived in the mansion.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) Episode 18

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This episode’s performance was a terrific coming of age for Nagi as a musician cross cut with Kaori’s bitter sweet violin pantomime. From a cinematography stand point, the performance scene mixes up the camera work in order to match the change in mood.

The beginning moments of the scene were filled with slow pans, tilts, and tracking shots. These languid movements matched Nagi’s feeling of comfort and ease with her performance. For Kousei this wasn’t good enough and looked to push her further as a performer. He shifted the mood and tone of the performance and accordingly the camera work matched up with it. There were less camera movement and more low angle static shots of Kousei that gave him a more commanding presence (as seen below).

This was a nice use of whip-pan to emulate Nagi’s willingness to keep up with Kousei’s pace. It appropriately expressed Nagi’s intensity but it was also brief enough not to be a distraction.

Garo: Honoo no Kokuin - Episode 18

Friday, February 13, 2015

As Leon grieves the death of Lara, the pain of this loss causes his dark past to resurface. His past is haunting and tempting him to yet again to give in to a life of anger and vengeance. The visual of this scene uses spatial depth and the symbolism of footprints to convey his internal struggle.

Footprints are physical marks of the past that show where we were and where we were going. With this notion in mind the footprints in this scene can symbolize Leon’s connection to his past, whether it was the vengeful life that he once lived or the life he spent with Lara.

When showing Leon’s connection to his dark past, the footprints were shot in deep space. The three shots above demonstrate deep space with depth cues such as one point perspective and footprints receding in the distance. Deep space tends to be more visually intense, which accentuated the ominous nature of Leon’s shadow of the past.

In contrast, Leon’s footprints connecting him to Lara were shot in flat space. This lack of depth and visual intensity produced a calm mood that is fitting to this mournful shot. This calmness also reflects Leon’s peaceful life with Lara.