The first film in a decade from Hayao Miyazaki is a ravishing, endlessly inventive fantasy that is destined to be ranked with the legendary animator’s finest, boldest works. While the Second World War rages, the teenage Mahito, haunted by his mother’s tragic death, is relocated from Tokyo to the serene rural home of his new stepmother Natsuko, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to the boy’s mother. As he tries to adjust, this strange new world grows even stranger following the appearance of a persistent gray heron, who perplexes and bedevils Mahito, dubbing him the “long-awaited one.” Indeed, an extraordinary and grand fate is in store for our young hero, who must journey to a subterranean alternate reality in the hopes of saving Natsuko—and perhaps himself. Uniting the countryside surreality of My Neighbor Totoro with the Alice in Wonderland–like dream logic of Spirited Away and the personal historical backdrop of The Wind Rises (NYFF51), yet fabricating something ingeniously original, The Boy and the Heron is a deeply felt work of eccentric beauty brimming with inspired images that lodge in the mind, from the adorable to the grotesque. Moving from earthbound serenity to a universe of boundless imagination, Miyazaki’s long-anticipated film seeks, once and for all, a world without malice. A GKIDS release.
Recommended Film Comment reading:
- The Film Comment Podcast: The Boy and the Heron (Toronto 2023)
Organic Machine: The World of Hayao Miyazaki
In Dreams: The Wind Rises
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