Film Micrœview #223: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

08.09.2015 § Leave a comment

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Rating: Dr. Pepper.

I’m quite sure I’ve never experienced the futility of possession rendered so poignantly before.

The storytelling has an ebb and flow to its structuredness, which the more I think back on, the more I like.


About midway though, I suppose, the film enters a big one of its structured segments. When five high-born dudes come a-callin’, never having met or seen Kaguya before, they compare her to various treasures. In a badass move, she challenges them each to bring her the treasures they’ve compared her to, and then of course they each fail in different symbolic ways undermining their supposed power and worth. Sure, seen this trope before. But THEN later in the movie she returns to the village she’s from and reunites with her childhood friend / probably the man who she is truly destined to be with, and we feel like we’ve seen this part of this dealio before too, but THEN their rapturous reuniting turns out to all be in the head of this guy! Even HE doesn’t get to possess her, even THAT story is bullshit! (this effect wouldn’t have worked well had it not’ve been prefaced by an earlier amazingly protracted surprise dream sequence in Kaguya’s head where she flees her name-taking banquet to return to her roots) THEN even Kaguya’s parents don’t get to possess her, which I guess her dad had coming because he couldn’t help himself from objectifying her and anticipating her wishes, but even her MOM who just tried to live simply and BE with her?! Damn! But THEN even Kaguya doesn’t get to fucking keep herself because her memories are wiped instantly and forever holy shit! And THEN even we the viewers don’t get to keep this comfy interpretation of the plot with the above screenshot undercutting all of this!

I wish I knew more about the symbolism of bamboo in Japanese culture. Seems like it could be the opposite of the ephemeral nature of sakura, which also figures prominently in one scene of the film.

Catchy recurring song “kusa ki hana” etc.

Inspiring animation style. The use of negative space and the relationship to the frame – never quite seen this before either, and would like to explore it further. I think with frame-less immersive cinema upcoming, the framed variety is going to need more inventiveness like this.


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