The master of Japanese animation has announced several times that he is going to cease his activities. However, he has a last film in preparation, a feature film inspired by a classic of Japanese literature.
We thought he was retired for good, but he’s still back. Hayao Miyazaki, legend of Japanese animation cinema, confirmed in a portrait dedicated to him by New York Times the upcoming release of his twelfth and final film, titled How do you live? Launched in 2016 by the filmmaker, the project seemed to be stopped, or at least put on hold. But Miyazaki, who will celebrate his 81st spring in early January, explained that he was continuing to work on this latest feature film, “because'[il] wanted to. “
The film in production is an adaptation of the novel How do you live?, by Yoshino Genzaburo. The book follows Junichi Honda, nicknamed Koperu, a 15-year-old high school student who loses his father and leaves to live with his uncle. He discovers a reality different from those he was used to. Narrated both by Koperu and by his uncle, who confides his doubts and thoughts when he recovers custody of his nephew, the story plunges into the psyche of the young high school student, when he is learning about life.
The novel’s philosophical and existentialist aspect has made it an unrelenting bestseller in Japan since its release over eight decades ago, and a classic in Japanese literature. When the reporter from New York Times asks him if he has the answer to the question posed by the title of the novel, Miyazaki explains precisely that he “Made this movie because it doesn’t have the answer.”
One minute per month
Produced by Studio Ghibli, the production company founded by Miyazaki in 1985 with filmmaker Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, the project promises to be pharaonic in comparison to its latest achievements. Already in 2018, the film was mentioned in an article by Entertainment Weekly. Toshio Suzuki explained the creative process undertaken for How do you live ?. “There are more drawings to do than before. At the time of the filming of My neighbor Totoro, we only had eight facilitators. We have done Totoro in eight months. For the movie Hayao Miyazaki is currently working on, we have 60 animators.“
A plethora of staff for a titanic, meticulous work that takes time. “We are only able to produce one minute of animation per month. That means 12 months a year you get 12 minutes of film. In fact, we’ve been working on this movie for three years, which means we’ve completed 36 minutes so far. We hope it will be completed within the next three years ”, Suzuki confided then. This long-drawn-out work looks set to end, with the film slated for release in 2023.
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