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Classical 101

The Music of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

This month, the Gateway Film Center opened the world's first  festival presenting the entire catalog by Studio Ghibli and  Hayao Miyazaki. The series runs from January 1st through May 29th with 22 films. Along with the world-renowned animation, these beloved classics have won seven Japanese Academy Awards for Best Soundtrack and a few Oscars for Best Animated Film. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come!

The Gateway Film Center is hosting the five-month film festival complete with dual edition screenings each week. “This is a very exciting moment for the film center and for Columbus,” said GFC President and Programmer Chris Hamel. “No one has ever presented all these films in one series, in one place."

Often referred to as the Walt Disney of Japan, HayaoMiyazaki is one of the most innovative and beloved animators in the history of cinema and cartoon. His anime productions were so popular from 1963 to 1984 that he co-founded his own animation production studio, Studio Ghibli (pronounced: "jee-blee"), and has since introduced much of the world to the art of anime. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OiMOHRDs14  

When discussing these great films, ideal for children and adults alike, it is almost impossible to separate the visual beauty from the impressive scoring. Joe Hisaishi is the masterful composer and musical director to thank for many Studio Ghibli productions. Maestro Hisaishi has received the Japanese Academy Award for Best Music seven times. 

Hishaishi's career actually began in electronic music, which is best heard in the score for the 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Soon, Hisaishi and Miyazaki developed more orchestral scores with an incredible sense of minimalism and melody. They're lush but hum-able and immediately synonymous with the characters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9mGQU7rGGM

These films are iconic, but more than that many of them are so dear and filled with positive messages for young people that they become rather personal. Miyazaki is strongly pacifist and promotes many messages of environmentalism. 

My first movie experience was actually Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro. I instantly loved the gentle music and the incredible creatures that sprang to life almost effortlessly amidst the lush animated forest scenery. If I could choose my first exposure to film now, I could not make a better choice. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFW_cAR5HCk

I encourage you to make the trip to the Gateway for at least one of these films, and definitely bring a friend or, better yet, a young person. Throughout the series, I'll be analyzing a few of the scores and even live Tweeting from the Classical 101 Twitter handle (@classical101) to comment on some interesting historical points and musicological notes. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McM0_YHDm5A

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Credit Gateway Film Center
/
Gateway Film Center
Each film is presented first with dubbed English and later with original Japanese dialogue and subtitles.

January 1 NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984)

January 8 CASTLE IN THE SKY (1986)
January 15 MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (1988)
January 22 GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (1988) In Japanese with English subtitles.

January 29 KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (1989)

February 5 PORCO ROSSO (1992)
February 12 OCEAN WAVES (1993) In Japanese with English subtitles.
February 19 POM POKO (1994) in 35mm
February 26 ONLY YESTERDAY (1991) Ohio premiere

March 4 WHISPER OF THE HEART (1995) in 35mm

March 11 PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
March 18 MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS (1999)

March 25 SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
April 1 THE CAT RETURNS (2002)

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Credit Gateway Film Center
/
Gateway Film Center

April 8 HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE (2004)
April 15 TALES FROM EARTHSEA (2006)
April 22 PONYO (2008)
April 29 THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (2010)

May 6 FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (2011)
May 13 THE WIND RISES (2013)
May 22 THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (2013)
May 29 WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (2014)