Castle in the Sky

Castle in the Sky

Miyazaki’s 1986 film isn’t his strongest, but it’s still enjoyable.

As my husband and I continue to make our way through all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, we remain impressed; we can definitely see how much his movies have continually improved throughout the years. We just watched his Castle in the Sky (also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, with Laputa pronounced “lap—you—tah,” not the same way as the Spanish curse word!), and although it was still fun, with the same gorgeous visuals and symbols you’d expect from Miyazaki, it wasn’t nearly as strong as some of his later films. In fact, Castle was the first of his films to be produced by Studio Ghibli.

Castle is about a young girl who is stolen from her village for unknown reasons. During a pirate attack, she escapes her captors and falls to Earth from the sky ship she was in, presumably with magic. She meets a young man who quickly becomes her protector—and, of course, love interest—and together they have several adventures as they attempt to escape both her captors as well as the pirates, both of whom want a mysterious necklace the girl wears. The two eventually make their way to the castle in the sky that the boy has sought his whole life, where more mystery awaits.

As in many of Miyazaki’s films, the destruction of the environment, particularly through war, is a strong theme, as is the duality of positive and negative traits within people, such as the pirates who began as “bad guys” but changed roles throughout the film. The strength of the main female lead, another common theme in his movies, was a focus, but she wasn’t as strong as many of the characters he’s come up with. In fact, she had to be saved a few times—though she did prove to be brave, resourceful, and able to save people herself, too. Miyazaki used the image of her hair being cut—something else he’s used in other movies after this one—to symbolize her growing up and becoming a hero, as well.

I think I didn’t like this one as much because while it remained vibrant and funny, it relied too heavily upon the love interest as a savior—and it had quite a bit of violence in it (as do a few other Miyazaki films, to be fair). This is definitely one of those movies that you might want to save for children when they are older because of that fact—but it’s still definitely one to see, even if it wasn’t my favorite.