Watching The Boy and the Heron is like stepping into a surrealist’s dream. Hayao Miyazaki uses childlike imagery to immerse the viewers in a new world which erodes the boundaries of logic. The movie pushes the audience into an unknown world of grief, war and creativity.
The outstanding animation of Studio Ghibli continues to stun. Bright and vivid dreamscapes of grand labyrinths and fantastical creatures, such as the ‘Warawara’ and murderous Parakeets, steal the show. Miyazaki dives into a fantastical yet natural world, connecting to the elements through the young character, Mahito, sailing on rough seas, or exploring the strange lore of this parallel world. However, these beautiful scenes of tranquillity and nature are starkly contrasted with hellish bursts of war and destruction.
Miyazaki’s merging of dreamlike imagination and dark, serious themes form a complex imagining of a young boy’s world. The film takes you along on a transformative journey of exploration, spotlighting the importance of family relationships, memory, destruction and grief. Creativity also emerges as a prominent theme; close to the director’s heart, the film explores the journey and limits of creativity. Placing the movie outside of the realms of reality Miyazaki can articulate his storytelling with no restrictions; he has created a perfect canvas to articulate his creativity.
With a special mention to Robert Pattison, who particularly stands out whilst playing the part of the Heron. Completely unrecognisable and wholly convincing; he is just another element of the movie which makes it so bizarre and wonderful.
At 83, Hayao Miyzaki proves that his creative genius will never fade. Comparable to Ponyo or Spirited away, we can only hope that Studio Ghibli does not end there, as they continue to produce some of the most original and artistic animated movies in the industry.