Fans of the many great animated features to come out of Japan’s fabled Studio Ghibli are never happy to hear that the man behind the curtain, the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki, is retiring from making feature films. It’s something he has said in the past many times, but this time, with the release of his final film The Wind Rises having come and gone, it appears to be for real.
As depressing as all of that is, it turns out that filmmaker Mami Sunada was given unheard of access to Studio Ghibli to document how things work there and show Miyazaki, the writer and director of Castle in the Sky, My Friend Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and more, in his final days working as a filmmaker.
The result is a documentary titled The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, and you can watch a trailer for the movie below. Think of it like Jiro Dreams of Sushi, but following a master filmmaker instead of a master sushi chef.
Granted near-unfettered access to the notoriously insular Studio Ghibli, director Mami Sunada follows the three men who are the lifeblood of Ghibli – the eminent director Hayao Miyazaki, the producer Toshio Suzuki, and the elusive and influential “other director” Isao Takahata – over the course of a year as the studio rushes to complete two films, Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Takahata’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. The result is a rare “fly on the wall” glimpse of the inner workings of one of the world’s most celebrated animation studios, and an insight into the dreams, passion and singular dedication of these remarkable creators.