Hayao Miyazaki talks about his new film, ‘The Boy and the Heron’ ……


The Boy and the Heron is the highly anticipated new Studio Ghibli feature from the Academy Award® -winning director Hayao Miyazaki, releasing in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on 26th December 2023. The critically-acclaimed new work from Miyazaki is his first in ten years, following his 2013 feature, The Wind Rises and is the first ever Studio Ghibli film to be released in IMAX theatres

“The Boy and the Heron” is a fantasy film with an element of semi-autobiography. Its Japanese title, “Kimitachi wa Do Ikiruka” (published in Japan by Shinchosha), literally meaning “How do you live?”, is borrowed from an eponymous novel by Genzaburo Yoshino that filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki was given in his youth by his mother. What’s more, certain events from Miyazaki’s childhood are depicted in this new animated feature for the first time ever.

Its story takes place in a past Japan that still exists vividly within Miyazaki’s memories. After losing his mother in a fire in Tokyo, 11-year-old Mahito moves to the countryside with his father Shoichi to take up residence at the Gray Heron Mansion, a fusion of Japanese and Western architecture on a sprawling leafy estate. Mahito struggles with his complex feelings toward his bold and forceful father, as well as his new stepmother Natsuko, who also happens to be his late mother’s younger sister. Isolation and alienation drive Mahito to self-harm and shut himself off inside his new home. Everything changes when he is visited by a gray heron, who eventually reveals himself to be the avian guise of a shapeshifting “heron man.”

The Boy and the Heron - director Hayao Miyazaki talks about it

About the making of such a film at his age the 77 year old Miyazaki said, ‘ There’s nothing more pathetic than telling the world you’ll retire because of your age, then making yet another comeback. Is it truly possible to accept how pathetic that is, and do it anyway? Doesn’t an elderly person deluding themself that they’re still capable, despite their geriatric forgetfulness, prove that they’re past their best? You bet it does. It’s all very well to drag in others and cause a heap of trouble yet still finish a film, but it’s also entirely possible that you could become bedridden or die come crunch time. The instigator himself might be fully prepared for that, but for those who’d end up burdened with an incomplete mishmash of a film, it would be unbearable. ‘

He continued, ‘Feature-length films take at least three years to complete. I could do one in a year when I was in my 40s, but now I’m 75, it’s a lot to get done in three years, and I’m tempted to say “Let me work on it till I’m 80.” Well, that’s something that Pakusan (fellow filmmaker Isao Takahata) went through already, so presuming that whoever’s producing the film has the determination to push ahead to completion, the real conundrum is: what will the world be like in three years time? What state will the world and minds of viewers be in when they greet our film? Surely our current age, indistinctly drifting, indefinable, and indiscernible, is reaching its end? Isn’t the world as a whole in a state of flux? We could be heading for war or disaster, or perhaps even both. In times like these, when making a film that’ll take three years to complete, what shape should it take…? First, something emphatically peaceful, like “Totoro.” “Totoro II” perhaps? We could do that.

Miyazaki, taking about his concerns for the film said, ‘I get the feeling we could make something worthwhile. That’s just a feeling, but if war were to break out, it could be even more meaningful. Secondly, a film set during wartime. A film ahead of its time, made with the realization that the times could catch up with us before we’re able to complete it. The film must not pander to its era. If I could be inhumanly irresponsible,

He then teased a future film saying, ‘I’d like to make a film about the Battle of the Yalu River in the Sino-Japanese War, but that’s just a personal predilection. Scratch that.

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Here’s the trailer for, ‘The Boy and the Heron’…….

THE BOY AND THE HERON, will be in UK and Irish cinemas nationwide from Boxing Day.


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