Friday, November 26, 2010

Isao Takahata: 28. Only Yesterday

Isao Takahata: 28. Only Yesterday: Isao Takahata is less well known than his Studio Ghibli colleague Hayao Miyazaki. People may know his film about a pair of children orphaned by war, Grave of the Fireflies, but might not be able to put a name to it; let alone a face to the name. He is less well known but arguably no less talented.

Only Yesterday is about Taeko; that is Taeko at 27 and Taeko at 10. On her way to the countryside to help pick Safflowers, she recalls, through flashbacks, her younger self. She wonders if the woman she has become is someone the young Taeko would be proud of. The literal translation of the Japanese title Omohide Poro Poro is “memories come tumbling down”.

To distinguish between the past and the present, Takahata fades the edges of the image of the past, unfinished and indistinct in retrospect, and draws with softer lines the safer and more welcoming world of a child. The present is depicted in sharp lines, the past as if in watercolour (Takahata used a watercolour wash, digitally created, in My Neighbours the Yamadas).

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