Hayao Miyazaki Auteur
The term “auteur” is of French origin and originates in post WW2
France in which US and UK films that were previously inaccessible
were arriving in France, these included films by Hitchcock, Welles etc.
To become an auteur you must have an original distinct visual style
and ideas that distinguish you from other directors these include
having recurring themes, cast and crew as well as using certain
techniques. I have chosen to discuss Hayao
Miyazaki’s status as an auteur.
Hayao Miyazaki is a retired Japanese director who
founded and worked for Studio Ghibli and worked
on films such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away
etc. all of which have attained cult status ever since
their release. Miyazaki has been directing films
from 1979 until 2013.
In order to distinguish whether or not Miyazaki is an auteur I have
watched and made notes on three of his films those are: My
Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Ponyo and identifying recurring
themes, techniques etc. that distinguish Miyazaki as an auteur, I
chose these three as they have quite large age
gaps with Totoro being released in 1988,
Spirited Away in 2000 and Ponyo in 2009.
Firstly we see childhood innocence in Ponyo
with Sosuke who believes that he has become
friends with a fish (Ponyo) and that she will
return, much to the scepticism of his mother.
In Spirited Away we see the sudden transition
from childhood to adulthood much to Chihiro’s discomfort and to an
extent fear. Finally in My Neighbour Totoro the entire film is based
around Mei and Stasuki’s child-like visions of beings like Totoro and
the Cat bus that are not visible to any adult in the film.
Respect for Elders
By using this theme it helps Miyazaki’s film reach a younger audience
as parents see this is as a good influence on their children therefore
allowing them to view the film.
This is arguably the most prominent theme in Miyazaki’s films. In
Spirited Away Chihiro’s main aim is to return her parents to their
human form and therefore return to the real world, we can also see
her love as they turn into pigs with her fear and sadness at the
thought of not seeing her parents but literal pigs. We also see
respect for elders with Zeniba who Chihiro sees as a grandparent-like
figure and helps her with her home and listens to her stories.
In My Neighbour Totoro the most obvious showing of this theme is
with Mei and Stasuki’s mother who is in the
hospital much to the sadness of the two
which resorts in tears, arguments and of
course Mei “running away” to get to get
closer to her mother. It is also present with
the neighbour at the very beginning, who is
painted in an extremely positive light by
interacting with Mei and giving her pointers
Ponyo sees Sosuke share an incredibly strong bond with his mother
who in turn works in a retirement home and greatly respects the
elders living there, these bonds are seen throughout the entire film.
The Miyazaki films I chose are based around the concept of a coming
of age and therefore the introduction of responsibility on our
Out of my three films Spirited Away deals with this theme the most
as Chihiro’s parents are no longer there to care for her meaning she
has to become independent, which is the main plot of the entire film,
this in turn sees her getting her first job which is rather
uncomfortable for her due to the drastic change in her lifestyle.
My Neighbour Totoro lightly deals with this
theme with Mei and Statsuki being left to look
after themselves while their father goes to
work however this is more just a show of
responsibility as appose to adulthood.
Finally Ponyo deals with this theme in some
depth when the town is flooded and Sosuke’s
mother is missing. Ponyo and Sosuke must
take matters into their own hands as neither of
their parents are there to protect/help them however once they are
reunited with their parents this responsibility somewhat disappears
due to their happiness.
As mentioned previously being an auteur means not only using
recurring themes but similar cast and crew members for each film.
One the most essential elements to Miyazaki films are their
soundtracks that help make them unforgettable this is made possible
by Joe Hishahi who has worked on the soundtrack to every Miyazaki
film, with the exception of Castle of Caligostoro.