A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness goes behind the scenes at Studio Ghibli, home of acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, to see how he and his team create their movies. It will appeal to any fan of his work, though there's not much action, and younger viewers may not be especially enthralled. It's in Japanese with English subtitles, which means it's best for kids who can read independently. And you can expect to see plenty of people smoking cigarettes as they work.
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What's the story?
Director Mami Sunada spent the better part of a year filming the day-to-day work at Studio Ghibli, learning how acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki brings his fantastic stories and images to the screen. In the process, viewers discover the inner workings of the studio -- its collegiality, source of creativity, and yes, stress. When Miyazaki announces that the project he's working on, The Wind Rises, will be his last, and that he's done for good, nobody knows for sure what will happen next.
Is it any good?
THE KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND MADNESS is infused with the same serenity and gentle wisdom for which Studio Ghibli's -- and Miyazaki's -- movies have long been known. As such, it unfolds quietly, with a hint of whimsy, especially when we see the master at work and at rest.
But those same qualities also work against it. Those who aren't die-hard Miyazaki fans may not understand why they're sitting patiently watching this great animator work or why his staff approaches him with reverence and awe. Even his announcement is treated with the same understated tone, to the point that there appears to be little conflict, even if the news is actually major. It's best for true fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about about Miyazaki's work. Does The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness give you a better appreciation for his movies? What would you want to know more about?
What do you think about the longstanding relationships between Miyazaki and his production partners? How do they complement each other?
Miyazaki has announced that The Wind Rises, the film he's making during this documentary, will be his last. Why does he want to retire? Will you miss his work?
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