Lasseter-San, Arigato (synopsis - Page 3)

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Miyazaki jokes that Spirited Away is a depiction of the strict working conditions under Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli. A slightly starstruck Hispanic interviewer tries out her rudimentary Japanese with Miyazaki and has her photo taken with him. And when asked of the significance of showing the film at the Toronto Film Festival, a visibly tired Miyazaki manages to joke that he'd rather be at home. Lasseter finishes his schedule first, and sneaks into the interviewer's chair opposite Miyazaki, asking a mock-banal question. Off-camera, Suzuki calls out to Miyazaki: "Sorry I got you into all this!" After they finish, Suzuki says that Miyazaki seems to have regained some confidence after surviving the gruelling day.

4. September 9: Press Junket in Toronto

Lasseter returns to San Francisco, while the print interviews are conducted. These seem more relaxed, with up to 10 interviewers at a time sitting with Miyazaki and his interpreter at a long table. Miyazaki says that John Lasseter calls him "master", but he doesn't recall making him an apprentice. And he does not consider junior staff at Studio Ghibli to be "apprentices".

5. September 10: Los Angeles

The evening of the premiere screening at the El Capitan theatre in Los Angeles has arrived. In the basement, there is a display for the film, with Miyazaki's portrait framed in black, flanked by vases of flowers. Suzuki is clearly disturbed by this bad omen, as it is the way a funeral is conducted in Japan. Miyazaki jokes that he should be wearing black, and Suzuki notes that Miyazaki enjoys cultural gaps like this. Eventually, a light-framed picture of Chihiro and Haku replaces the portrait of Miyazaki, and all is well.

Suzuki and Miyazaki are shown being interviewed up on stage. Miyazaki jokes that the animators at Studio Ghibli have six arms, just like Kamaji.

6. September 11: Walt Disney Studios

The Ghibli van pulls up at the Walt Disney Studios, which is being held up (not just metaphorically) by the Seven Dwarves from Snow White. They form the columns of the building in front of which the crew disembarks.

Disney Welcomes Ghibli

Suzuki and Miyazaki have their pictures taken in the park - Suzuki wondering whether they will reminisce fondly about their comparative youth in years to come.

As to the most-often asked question of "why did you decide to team up with Disney?", Suzuki notes that Disney was the only studio (of many that had approached them over the years) that not only wanted to distribute Ghibli's entire output (rather than just certain titles), but also did not want to cut the films' length. Suzuki also felt that Disney's tradition [presumably, of hand-drawn cel animation] was still alive.

A welcome lunch was then held, although understandably low-key because of the date [one year to the day after the suicide attacks on the Twin Towers in New York]. Disney Chairman Dick Cook and other section heads were in attendance. Apparently, it is unusual for so many executives to be gathered together. In his welcoming address, Cook describes the film's reception as "triumphant".

7. September 12: San Francisco Bay Area

The crew's arrival in San Francisco reminds Suzuki of Lasseter's support earlier in the year at the San Francisco Film Festival. After checking into the hotel, Miyazaki does more media interviews.

Miyazaki tells the story of how, over 20 years ago, he first met John Lasseter, who was working on a 3D project, when he visited Disney. Later, when Lasseter went to Japan to attend the Hiroshima Animation Festival, he visited Miyazaki's office, bringing along two animations featuring "a lamp, and a unicycle" [Luxo Jr. and Red's Dream]. Miyazaki's pause is filled with another question, but he feels compelled to finish the story. He says he was impressed not only by Lasseter, but also by Brad Bird and others who were struggling to work independently. Therefore, he was very pleased for Lasseter when Toy Story became a hit. When Lasseter next visited, Miyazaki feels that is when the friendship truly took off.

On the question of his childhood influences, Miyazaki says that he had trouble expressing himself; that perhaps his childhood contained many lost opportunities to have said and done the things he could have.


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