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"The Boy and the Heron" review: Ghibli's Finest Film in Years Has Finally Arrived.

The Boy and the Heron marks Studio Ghibli's latest cinematic adventure and heralds the return of acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki after a decade-long hiatus. At the heart of the story is Mahito Maki, a young protagonist who, in a memorable encounter, befriends a talking heron that propels him into an alternate realm and seduces him with the prospect of finding his dead mother. What follows is a haunting, fantasy-rich odyssey as Mahito grapples with the complexities of loss and attempts to unravel the path to a meaningful existence. The film, which will be officially released on December 8, 2023, has already captivated audiences with previews at various international festivals and exclusive previews since the end of November. Notably, its debut at the 2023 New York Film Festival in the United States presented a cinematic masterpiece, demonstrating a narrative prowess and animation genius that rivals the top of Studio Ghibli's illustrious portfolio. The Boy and the Heron appears as a high point in Miyazaki's oeuvre and invites reflection on his previous reflections on retirement following its unveiling.

One of Studio Ghibli's best works is "The Boy and the Heron."

Studio Ghibli has consistently received praise for its exceptional direction, and The Boy and the Heron stand out as the pinnacle of their cinematic prowess. The animation in this film surpasses its predecessors, showcasing an unparalleled level of fluidity and overall composition that turns every scene into a visual spectacle. The opening scene, in which Mahito rushes to his mother, is particularly noteworthy, where the creative use of color, shadow, and choreography come together to create an impressive moment, arguably one of the best of any Studio Ghibli production, directed by legendary Hayao Miyazaki or others. The film's soundtrack, composed by Joe Hisaishi, further adds to its commendable qualities. Hisaishi's musical compositions deftly capture the mood of each scene, whether it's tense, melancholy, or a case of fleeting joy within the cast. His music, a hallmark of many Studio Ghibli films, complements the animation perfectly, culminating in a staging for The Boy and the Heron that positions him as one of the studio's most remarkable, if not the absolute best.

All the great characters of the boy and the heron.

The Boy and the Heron not only has an outstanding staging but also features a captivating array of characters. True to the signature style of Hayao Miyazaki's previous works, the film unfolds as a captivating human drama, expertly crafted to imbue the actors with a deep sense of humanity. Mahito and Himi, in particular, engage in an intense exploration of their characters, delving into their traumas and reactions in a meticulous manner. Even secondary characters such as Kiriko, Natsuko, and Mahito's father receive a lot of attention, so their identities are richly defined. To complete the story, the more comical and tertiary characters, such as the blue heron and parakeets, inject humor and levity into the story. On the other hand, despite limited screen time, the noble pelican effectively emphasizes the harsh realities of Mahito's world, while Mahito's great-uncle beautifully emphasizes the scale that goes beyond human drama. While a few characters could have benefited from further development, the whole as a whole adds to the overall brilliance of the film.

The central theme of the film is summed up in The Boy and the Heron.

At the heart of The Boy and the Heron, the most compelling feature is the overarching theme that focuses on finding the essence of a meaningful existence. The film delves deep into Mahito's internal struggles as he grapples with this idea in the wake of a tragic event, a gripping story that resonates remarkably when interspersed with characters like Himi, who embraces his unfortunate fate, and Mahito's great-uncle, who stubbornly avoids the harsh truths of reality. Despite the fantastical nature of the story, the exploration of deep human experiences makes it surprisingly endearing, enriching the film with nuanced depth. The climax of Mahito's evolution, where he finally accepts the change and decides to continue living, serves as the climax of the story. This seemingly simple conclusion carries considerable weight, and Mahito's arduous journey to acceptance adds substantial value and offers a journey of emotional catharsis that is truly rewarding. The title of the film, How Do You Live? finds its perfect answer in Mahito's transformative journey, which provides a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the story. While there has been speculation that The Boy and the Heron could be Hayao Miyazaki's last directorial project, it stands out as a notable potential highlight of his illustrious career. While the film is not without its flaws, especially in its storyline, its impeccable direction, well-crafted characters, and universal themes make up for it admirably, cementing its status as one of Studio Ghibli's most notable productions. Whether you're a fan of Miyazaki or not, The Boy and the Heron is a cinematic experience not to be overlooked, leaving audiences eager to see how the legendary filmmaker will surpass this feat with his next project.


"The Boy and the Heron" represents a triumphant return for Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, captivating audiences with its compelling story, outstanding animation, and memorable characters. The film, which will premiere at the 2023 New York Film Festival, showcases Miyazaki's storytelling prowess and animation genius, positioning him as a highlight of his illustrious career. The unparalleled fluidity and composition of the animation, especially in the opening scene, make it a visual masterpiece, complemented by Joe Hisaishi's evocative score. The depth of the characters, from Mahito's deep journey to the well-defined secondary and comic characters, enriches the film's story. At its core, the film explores the search for a meaningful existence, with Mahito's evolution providing an enriching and cathartic experience. Despite minor flaws in the story, "The Boy and the Heron" stands out as one of Studio Ghibli's most notable productions, leaving audiences eagerly awaiting Miyazaki's next cinematic adventure.

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