Sunday, January 1, 2012

MR The Castle of Cagliostro

Let's start off this year with a whole new review!
This time I would like to offer you yet another entry in my long running Studio Ghibli Marathon.

This yet another "Ghibli-esque" movie from the pre-Studio Ghibli era. Taking you this time in the late 70s...

Movie: Lupin The III: Castle of Cagliostro also simply known as The Castle of Cagliostro
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Release date 1979
Genre Anime/adventure
Country Japan

Castle of Cagliostro is one of the earliest features around Lupin III, it is actually Lupin's 2nd movie adaptation.
Released only a mere year after the first one, The Secret of Mamo.
It was co-written and directed by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki and originally one of his biggest projects to date.

Lupin 3 was at first a manga created by Monkey Punch (pen name of the mangaka Kazuhiko Katō).
It is about this international thief called Arsène Lupin The Third who is, yes, the grandson of the fictional character created by Maurice Leblanc.
Due to copyright issues and trademarks, Lupin has been forced to go under various other names depending on the translations and years they've been released.
Depending on the movie/TV series you'll see you might find him under the names: Rupan III (recent materials), Edgar (like most of the French releases, like mine picture above), Wolf or even Vidocq IV (true enough)!
For the sake of simplicity, I'll just use Lupin, ok?

In his adventures Lupin III is often accompanied by other thieves and criminals-for-hire and finds himself in very dangerous and often random situations.

Meet our heroes!

This second film takes off as our main character is pulling off a job in a casino in Monaco.

Lupin II and his acolyte Daisuke Jigen, a mercenary, barely make it outside the premises...
As our heroes escape in their famous Fiat 500, Lupin notices they actually stole fake money that has been spreading all over the world since a dozen of years or so...

Lupin convinces Jigen to attack the problem at its source and go after the people that have been spreading this fake money around.
Their journey takes them to (the fictional) Cagliostro, somewhere in mid-Europe.

But as soon as they reach their destination, trouble follows them quickly and they find themselves having to protect a girl from being kidnapped....

You'll never find a more well-mannered Lupin anywhere else!

Long story short, Lupin ends up having to rescure this princess, Clarisse, from the clutches of the evil Count of Cagliostro.
They find themselves in peril against the overwhelming forces of the Count's elite assassins, so Lupin call in some exterior help. The ronin Goemon Ishikawa XIII is quick to answer to his friend's.
And the head of an Interpol anti-Lupin task force, Inspector Koichi Zenigata finds the steps of Lupin leading him into the castle as well.
Meanwhile, international criminal Fujiko Minewas already way ahead of everyone else on the quest for the hidden treasure the Castle of Cagliostro hides beneath its underground...

As you might get from this crazy plot, it sort of goes everywhere but stays pretty focuses at the same time.

This movie's a fun adventure with lots of twists and turns around each corner.
Miyazaki based the movie around several Arsène Lupin stories actually. The movie uses some plot elements and alludes to La Comtesse de Cagliostro an original Lupin story from Leblanc, as well as taking some inspiration from La Justice d'Arsène Lupin by Boileau-Narcejac (mostly the forged money aspect, which concerned fake Francs during a WW1 era Germany in the original) and Maurice Leblanc's The Green-eyed Lady.

Aesthetically though it's totally a Hayao Miyazaki movie.
The tone of the movie makes it stand out amongst the various other Lupin 3 productions. From using Miyazaki-esque backgrounds and settings (the nature, the colorful realistic country, the castle..) to the plot itself.
As such, it features a much simpler and gentler Lupin & co. Even keeping Jigen aside I presume is a way of having less of the usual gun ho action on screen (and Goemon's even less present, barely making an appearance for fans simply). Though I must say Zenigata's perfectly in-character.
Also this is probably the movie were Miyazaki's influences can best be seen represented in the animation, particularly the 1952 classic French animated movie The King and the Bird (Le Roi et l'oiseau) from which Cagliostro takes a lot of cues from the castle's design to various designs, shots and animations.

Finally a note for the musical aspect.
The music here was composed by series regular Yuji Ohno, which perfectly captured the movie's tone and atmosphere in sound. The score is simply epic, fitting for such a crazy adventures featuring lots of chasing around and action, as well as some deeper emotions and more serious scenes too.

Overall, a fantastic movie!
Fans of animation, Ghibli, Lupin III or simply adventure films, don't miss this one out!

This Toho production helmed by Miyazaki at the top is one of the classic film features from the master of animation I can't recommend enough!
It can also work as a great introduction to the crazy universe of Lupin II (even if you'll call him Wolf, Edgar or Rupin III!).

A must watch, fun for all ages!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 DonPatchis!

No comments:

Post a Comment