17 November 2007 | ChungMo
Gorgeous , Incredible Animation - Baffling ending and meaning
Despite my high rating, I really don't know what the meaning of the whole thing is. Part drama, part ghost story and part Buddhist parable, the film is exquisite and quite breathtaking while you watch the intricate stop-motion animation. Real stop motion is becoming a rarity as computers overwhelm the movie business. If you have any appreciation for this vanishing art, this film, despite the mysterious story, is the best example of stop- motion in recent memory. The recreations of silk and hair in the wind is incredible.
The plot concerns a sheltered aristocratic woman in feudal Japan. Bored and unfamiliar with the world outside her estate, she passes the time copying a special Buddhist sutra sent by her father who has been absent on official business for years. While gazing out her window one late afternoon, the setting sun creates a vision of a holy figure in the distant mountains. This inspires the woman to copy more sutras. Eventually she follows the vision towards the mountains and finds herself in a monastery with a strange old woman who tells of a heroic prince who was buried at the monastery many years earlier. The ghost of the prince visits the lady at night.
While short for a feature, the film is slow paced. The model work is fantastic along with the lighting and small bits of animation included. The ending seems abrupt but that might be because I am unfamiliar with the meaning of the Buddhist tale being told. I'll watch it again.