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Translated by Madevi Dailly

© 2001/2002 by French Vogue
Transcribed without permission for personal entertainment purpose only.


Chihiro is a little girl traveling to a world of gods. Her mission? To find her parents turned into pigs as a punishment for gluttony. Chihiro is also the most popular virtual character in Japan : 17 million viewers. In time for the release of the film on January the 16th, we meet with Hayao Miyazaki, Chihiro's creator, who also directed Princess Mononoke. This director of animated films is adored like a film star, and his visionary world is already housed in a museum.

Q: As a child, did you already dream of making films?

A: I wasn't the type of child to rebel against the law that stated that you had to work hard to succeed. I was stuck in that mold, but I wanted to draw. My father was passionate about cinema. He often took me to the movies, from an early age. I remember Ozu's films, Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thief. Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds, Bresson's Journal d'un cure de campagne. I remember these far better than westerns or action films.

Q: No memories of Disney?

A: They amused me but they didn't make me feel anything. I much preferred La Bergere et le Ramoneur (the Shepherdess and the chimney sweep), a 1953 film, redone by the Frenchman Paul Grimault in 1980 as Le Roi et l'Oiseau, or the 1947 film The Little Hunchbacked horse by the Russian Ivan Ivanov. Right after the war, these films marked a new generation of future animators. Animation films are films in their own right. Actually, the use of animation techniques in traditional filming is growing. I run away from reality. Animation is my only mode of expression.

Q: Have you ever put yourself in your spectators' shoes?

You're seated in the dark, you're trying not to leave the room. If you think the film is bad, you're allowed to say so. This is how critics are constructed. I can not decide how my film is going to be interpreted. I remember one spectator, at the end of a screening, who confided in me his feeling of "still being starved after having devoured a copious meal". I try not to let myself be impressed by Spirited Away. If some films do very well commercially, others are ignored by spectators in spite of their quality. I've experienced this.

Q: Any examples?

In 1968, there was this film, Taiyo no oji: Horusu no daiboken (Prince of the Sun: The Great Adventure of Horus ). I wasn't even 20 yet and I had worked on it in a sort of passion, convinced that it would transform the way people saw life. Sales were catastrophic.
Then, in 1973, there was Panda! Go Panda! For me, it was a key moment : the first time I confronted my two children to the world of cinema. The youngest was three years old, the oldest five. I was thrilled to see that they could be so absorbed by a film. Takahata Isao was its producer and I was in charge of the team. It was the first "film for children".

Q: Have you always been drawn to this genre?

When my children were old enough to go to the movies, there was nothing we wanted to see. Neither as parents nor as film lovers; that is why I started. This film had no educative pretense. Panda! Go Panda! is just written to describe every day life, that sweetness that reminds us that life can be beautiful and luminous.
They watched it without moving. I was so happy that my intuition was validated by my two children! But the film wasn't successful this time either.

Q: After the success of Spirited Away, can you still have projects in mind?

I am preparing a new film. Its release is due in summer 2004. Just last night, I was chairing a debate with youngsters to know what kind of film they were looking for.
What can we tell children that will still be valid in 2004? Which type of films will they still want to see? Can we imagine these films? I think we must create films that will make people happy.


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