A poster. This is the only promotional element that Studio Ghibli has leaked from Hayao Miyazaki’s latest animated feature film, And you, how will you live?. Signed by the director of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, the drawing is as enigmatic as this ultra-confidential project: it looks like a sketch of an anthropomorphic character hidden under the plumage of a bird with a long beak…
— Studio Ghibli France (@Studioghiblifr) July 13, 2023
No trailer comes to give details on this film that the Cannes Film Festival sought in vain to show during its last edition. No release date is known elsewhere than in Japan.
All we know is that it is an adaptation of an eponymous novel published in 1937 by Genzaburo Yoshino (1), the learning story of a young student whom his uncle helps to understand the world with “the eyes and ears of the heart”. A choice that says a lot about the nature of the project, according to Japanese animation specialists.
Adapted from an anti-militarist work
“The very title of this work calls for an introspective assessment,” says Xavier Kawa-Topor, director of NEF Animation, who played a decisive role in the recognition of the work of the Japanese master. “It is a work which was addressed to the youth of his country, then at war since the beginning of the 1930s and which was banned throughout the conflict for “anti-militarism and demoralizing remarks”. Born in 1941, Miyazaki read it when he was young. He no doubt wants to address himself to today’s youth and perhaps to the child he was. »
Ilan Nguyen, historian of Japanese animation cinema, says that the title of the film “has been the target of criticism in Japan: some are not deprived of underlining the contentious nature of this rhetorical question… But this question probably goes beyond youth, after all that the country has been through for ten years: the health crisis, the 2011 earthquake, the assassination of the Prime Minister, rearmament, etc. »
The master’s ultimate feature film
For Ilan Nguyen, who knows Hayao Miyazaki well and was very close to Isao Takahata, co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director of Tomb of the Fireflies, “this film will be clearly fantastic, drawing very freely on the original work, like most of its adaptations.
Will its visual style be like the poster, refined, almost raw? Xavier Kawa-Topor thinks so: “Miyazaki has returned to a more stripped-down form in his latest films, Ponyo on the Cliff (2008) and The Wind Rises (2013), less baroque and lavish in detail than Princess Mononoké (1997) or Spirited Away (2001). »
One thing seems certain: And you, how will you live? will be the master’s final feature film, released in 2017 from his retirement to set him on the road. “He took five to six years to make this film, and given his state of fatigue, it is unlikely that he will embark on a new long-term project”, believes Ilan Nguyen who is betting on new courts instead. -films for the Ghibli museum cinema, near Tokyo.
“He was very affected by the death of Isao Takahata in 2018 and legendary animator Yasuo Otsuka in 2021, who accompanied him in all his first films, adds Ilan Nguyen. The last time I visited him, he had hung a picture of his two comrades above his desk. Takahata should also appear as a character in his latest film. Notice to happy Japanese spectators!