Magazine article Newsweek

A 'Positive Pessimist'; Japan's Animation Titan Hayao Miyazaki Returns with Another Marvel, 'Howl's Moving Castle.' This Time He's Ready to Talk

Magazine article Newsweek

A 'Positive Pessimist'; Japan's Animation Titan Hayao Miyazaki Returns with Another Marvel, 'Howl's Moving Castle.' This Time He's Ready to Talk

Article excerpt

Byline: Devin Gordon

Meeting Hayao Miyazaki, Japan's greatest living director, is nothing like watching a Miyazaki film. The man dresses entirely in gray, chain-smokes and has a bleak, fatalistic sense of humor. The films, meanwhile--"My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke," his masterpiece "Spirited Away"--are enchanting, radiantly colorful fever dreams. The 64-year-old director is a legend among American animators, and back home he's the equivalent of Steven Spielberg. Miyazaki rarely speaks publicly, but as his latest miracle, "Howl's Moving Castle," arrived in U.S. theaters last week, he made an exception and sat down with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon.

GORDON: Why this change of heart?

MIYAZAKI: I figured, "Oh, what the hell." [Laughs ] And I feel sorry about making my producer do all the interviews.

Are you hoping your films will enjoy the same success here that they do in Japan?

I think only about my Japanese audience when I make a film. Of course, I'm delighted that people from other countries also enjoy my films. But I try not to think of this as an international business. [Laughs ] Somewhere my producer is probably saying the exact opposite.

Were you surprised "Spirited" won an Oscar?

Actually, your country had just started the war against Iraq, and I had a great deal of rage about that. So I felt some hesitation about the award. In fact, I had just started to make "Howl's Moving Castle," so the film is profoundly affected by the war in Iraq.

It's also the rare children's film that addresses the subject of aging. …

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