DVD REVIEW: From Up On Poppy Hill
Studio Ghibli’s Hand Drawn Animation At Its Simplest and Finest...
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From the legendary animation studio of Studio Ghibli comes a coming of age masterpiece, From Up on Poppy Hill, released on Blu-Ray and DVD September 3rd. Written by the studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro Miyazaki, the latest animated film from the team that delivered the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and countless others, From Up On Poppy Hill tells the story of a young girl named Umi (played by Sarah Bolger) who raises flags outside of her grandmother’s home each morning, hoping that her father will eventually find his way home.
The real story underneath From Up on Poppy Hill is the blossoming relationship between Umi and her classmate Shun (played by Anton Yelchin) who join forces to save their clubhouse from demolition. Gillian Anderson, Beau Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Isabelle Fuhrman, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Emily Osment, Aubryey Plaza, Charlie Saxton, and Alex Wolff also lend their voice talents to the English language version that is directed by Oscar Winning sound guru, Gary Rydstrom. Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy executive produced and Karey Kirkpatrick performed the script adaptation.
The real beauty of From Up on Poppy Hill is the hand drawn animation and the film’s masterful sense of timing. Studio Ghibli handles all the subtle details of everyday life and turns them into beautiful works of art. Some might argue that this film could have been shot in live action and they would be right, but would it be this gorgeous to look at? While this film doesn’t have a single trace of magic or fantasy like many other Studio Ghibli works, the real fantasy is transporting us to 1963 Yokohama, Japan and with the talented artists, we do not question how real it is because it truly is real.
I found this film so much more engaging and beautiful than The Secret of Arrietty and it really deserves to be seen. With American animation focusing so much on computer animation, seeing Japan continue to make works of true art is breathtakingly refreshing.
There are three hours of bonus features included on the 2-Disc DVD release and even more on the Blu-Ray.
Found on the DVD release is:
* Original Japanese Version - This is the true highlight of this release, seeing the work of art in its original language. The subtitles are also slightly different than the updated American release but this is how I prefer to watch it.
* English Language Version - Here’s the film with updated voice talent and a new translation with subtitles to enjoy if you prefer.
* Feature Length Storyboards - You can watch the entire English language version of From Up on Poppy Hill with just the storyboards.
* Celebrity Cast Featurette – with interviews by Gary Rydstrom and many of the voice talent in the film it’s an interesting peak at how the dubbing is handled.
* Interview with Goro Miyazaki – Turn on the subtitles for you can see the director’s thoughts on the movie. Unfortunately, you cannot read the questions as they’re in Japanese.
* Theme Song Music Video with artist Aoi Teshima – Surprisingly, the music video shows the artist and found footage of Yokohama Japan rather than clips from the film.
* Yokohama Then and Now Featurette – A nice 20 minute retrospective on Yokohama, Japan... what it looked like in the 50s and what it looks like now. If you plan on traveling there, this might be of interest.
* Original Japanese Trailers and TV Spots
* Original English Trailer
Exclusive to the From Up On Poppy Hill Blu-ray is a 20 page booklet containing the original project proposal by Hayao Miyazaki and a letter from Goro Miyazaki. It also has a staff speech and press conference by Hayao Miyazaki days after the Fukushima earthquake.
Street Date: September 3, 2013
Running Time: 91 min + extras
Format: DVD (2 Discs) or Blu-Ray + DVD (2 Discs)
Review by David Yeh
From Up on Poppy Hill DVD courtesy of GKIDS