June 24, 2009

Whisper of the Heart

Posted in Studio Ghibli at 8:52 pm by j128

Whisper of the Heart

"Whisper of the Heart" (Australian DVD release)

Whisper of the Heart is a Japanese 1995 film from Studio Ghibli and directed by Yoshifumi Kondo and the storyboard and screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki. This was Mr. Kondo’s first film to direct, sadly he died three years later of an aneurysm – though others say his death also resulted from work overload – and even more, he was meant to be the successor of Mr. Miyazaki and Isao Takahata at Studio Ghibli. Whisper of the Heart was released in North America in 2006 by Disney and Buena Vista Entertainment along with Howl’s Moving Castle and the Disney version of My Neighbour Totoro.

Summary

Shizuku Tsukishima is a thirteen or fourteen-year-old girl who attends junior high school in the outskirts of a city in Japan. She loves reading and writes poetry, a recurring theme throughout the film is the song that Shizuku translates is Country Road.

Shizuku is intrigued by a boy’s name on the library cards, as he has checked out all of the books that she has read before her. His name is Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku learns that his father was a former PTA member as one of the books she borrowed has the surname Amasawa and that his son is attending the same school as she is.

One day on the train Shizuku meets a mysterious cat that she follows upon discovering an unknown neighbourhood and she also discovers a sort of antique shop where she meets the Baron, a cat doll. This is only the beginning of her adventure.

Eventually she properly meets the young boy she’s been approached by and after she’s sung her version of Country Road she finds out that the boy’s name is Seiji Amasawa and that the owner of the shop is his grandfather. Seiji makes violins and he can play a little, too, but what he’s interested in is being a violin maker. He tells Shizuku that there is a violin workshop in Cremona, Italy, and he intends to go there, but his parents are against it and his grandfather is his only ally.

Shizuku is happy for Seiji and his ambitions, though she is disappointed she does not have similar ambitions and that they couldn’t attend the same school together. Sejii’s parents give in on one condition and he leaves for Italy while Shizuku commits herself to writing a story, which Seiji’s grandfather will read, and has the Baron as the hero.

Two months go by – Seiji in Italy and Shizuku writing her story. She finishes her story, titled Whisper of the Heart, and Seiji’s grandfather reads it in which Shizuku also learns of the Baron’s past. It was rather coincidence that Shizuku gave Baron a female companion whom he became seperated from. In her story something sinister happens when an evil cat arrives at the city where the female cat and Baron were created; while in reality Baron was seperated just before the outbreak of WWII. Seiji’s grandfather wanted the cat doll but he was refused as the two dolls couldn’t be seperated and one of them was being repaired, however, a possible fiance of the grandfather’s offers that she she would take the other doll and give it to the grandfather as soon as she was repaired. The dealer accepted and the grandfather promised to come back to Germany (which was where Baron was acquired). But after the war, the grandfather couldn’t find the lady or the female cat doll, so Baron has been lonely since then.

Shizuku’s mission is accomplished: she has completed the book, now it just needs polishing. She is given a ride home by the grandfather and she tells her mother that she is finished – for now. She falls into a deep sleep and wakes up next morning, upon seeing Seiji and they ride on his bike up a hill to a special place where they watch the sunrise. Seiji proposes to Shizuku and she accepts: when they are old enough they will marry; in the meantime Shizuku will go back to school and work hard and Seiji will become a violin maker.

Notes

This film was based on the manga Mimi wo Sumaseba (If You Listen Closely) by Aoi Hiiragi.

Whisper of the Heart’s fantasy scenes depicted from Shizuku’s story became so popular with fans that Studio Ghibli released a film based on the characters called The Cat Returns, which is also a fantastic movie and I’ll also write a review of it sometime soon.

Whisper of the Heart Trailer

Links

Whisper of the Heart – Answers.com

Online English translation of the original manga

Whisper of the Heart – Nausicaa.net

Whisper of the Heart– Google Video, full length, spoken in Japanese with Engish subtitles.

Images
https://i1.wp.com/media.monstersandcritics.com/articles/1148582/article_images/whispercap1.jpg

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