Movie: Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Posted 9 November, 2013 by Lianne in Entertainment / 0 Comments

Something bizarre has come over the land. The kingdom is deteriorating. People are beginning to act strange… What’s even more strange is that people are beginning to see dragons, which shouldn’t enter the world of humans.

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Moving along with the Miyazaki movies, I decided to watch this movie next. I had been curious about this one because I never read Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels–been meaning to but never got around to them–and I had read somewhere that Miyazaki had always been keen to adapt them into a movie. Of course, this movie was directed by his son but nonetheless I was intrigued by the story.

Suffice to say Tales from Earthsea was a curious story. I love the way that they showed the cultural texture of the places that Sparrowhawk and Arren visited, especially Hort Town (which was more like a metropolis rather than a town!). The king’s palace and the boats featured docked at Hort Town reminded me a lot of Byzantine culture and architecture which was really cool. I also loved the music which had this Celtic feel to it, very beautiful stuff.

As wonderous as the scenery was and how curious the world worked, the plot itself seemed rather rushed, the pacing all over the place. It started out really slow but then rushed at other parts throughout the movie, making it difficult to really establish the characters. For example, the jump between Therru’s hostility towards Arren and then suddenly becoming friends felt unconvincing. Arren himself was a rather meh character; it took me a good chunk of the movie before I fully understood that he was struggling with some dark stuff inside and that he didn’t mean to act or feel the way he did during some really dire moments. I’m sure it was far more fleshed out in the novels but in the films the audience had to do quite a bit of inferring to understand some of the more nuanced storylines happening underneath the main plot. The same goes for the big reveal about Therru’s character at the end of the movie and the concept behind the true names and their importance.

I did however enjoy certain thematic elements of the story, namely the themes of immortality and death and the value of life. The backstory behind Sparrowhawk and Cob was interesting (I later found out that there was one volume dedicated to their story and how Cob came to be left at shores of the dead (the full name escapes me right now) and the antagonism there), made epic of course by Sir Timothy Dalton and Willem Dafoe voicing the characters. The confrontation between the two characters I think was my favourite part of the whole movie.

Tales from Earthsea was overall an interesting novel but not one of the stronger titles from Studio Ghibli. The character development did not seem natural and a lot of elements about how magic in this world worked and elements contributing to the greater storylines were not as fleshed out as they could have been. In a way it was a fairly good introduction for me to the book series as now I really should check them out at some point but otherwise the adaptation wasn’t a wholly memorable one.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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