Don’t forget to fly
It’s inevitable. Although on many occasions, especially in the cinema, the action is accompanied by a “Don’t look down”, the warning is in vain. The change of perspective when you lift your feet off the ground and literally fly away is a sight to behold: The landscape, urbanism or existence itself suddenly takes on a new dimension, and seems to be seen with a certain clarity or a certain pattern. Perhaps that is why it is a recurring dream for almost all of us to be able to lift ourselves up without help, to take flight and be able to ascend without depending on planes or machinery, and to be able to contemplate the rest of the world from up there.
Hayao Miyazaki grows up in postwar Japan, and I like to think he does so with this same dream of being able to rise up and disappear into the clouds. Hayao’s father ran an important company that manufactured parts for the planes that fought in the conflict, so his closeness to the world of aeronautics was enough to allow him to draw very early on sketches of the ships with a high level of detail, imagining them in a scenario that he himself had witnessed when he was only four years old, when he was evacuated during the Utsonomiya bombing.
“They look like ants from here…”
Perhaps this fear, or desperation to rise high enough to make destruction seem far away, or perhaps both, are the triggers of an obsession that seeps into the films of the award-winning Studio Ghibli, founded by the Japanese animator along with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki in 1985. It may not be a central theme in any of his films, nor does it appear among the many interpretations of the stories they tell, but the fact of ‘flying’ is an ever-present constant in Hayao Miyazaki’s cinema.
This obsession has been revealed in a beautifully edited film by editor and producer Zach Prewitt, who has collected all the scenes from the most famous Japanese animation films of all time, creating a short film that immerses us in Miyazaki’s fixation on getting his feet off the ground. With clips from such famous movies as My Neighbor Totoro, The Wandering Castle o Chihiro’s Journey, the artist recomposes a journey through the fiction produced by Studio Ghibli, a world full of dreams and aspirations, color and magic that seems to make something as intangible and at the same time inevitable as gravity suddenly become another toy in his hands.
“Whitout even thinking about it, I used to be able to fly. Now I am trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it”“Kiki’s Delivery Service” Studio Ghibli, 1989
If you’re looking forward to seeing Miyazaki’s movies again (or for the first time, if you’re that lucky), the good news is that Netflix has just acquired the rights to 21 Studio Ghibli titles that will be released soon. Tell us your favourite aerial scene of Miyazaki in the comments!