Ghibli et le mystère Miyazaki (2005) - full transcript

Documentary created for television on the animation Studio Ghibli and focused especially in the visible head of the study, Hayao Miyazaki.

The western suburbs of Tokyo,
about 15 miles from the city center.

A unique building is nestled
in one of the city's largest parks.

This is the Ghibli Museum.

With its green-clad roof,
it almost seems to merge with the foliage.

This rambling,
castle-like structure...

...seems to be the result
of continuous additions.

Bridges link multiple levels.
Terraces sprout everywhere.

The museum is a huge maze.

What inspired its creation?

Is that Totoro waiting
at the entrance?

No - that's not the real entrance.

Here's what the museum
looks like from ground level.

And here's the real entrance.
Let's step through and take a look.

Inside, colorful frescos greet the eye.

Stained-glass windows
illuminate a stairway...

...that descends into a mysterious world.

The stairway leads to a hall
that seems to soar upward into space.

A maze of balconies and bridges
rises above your head.

A huge propeller revolves
beneath the skylight.

You might think you've wandered
into one of Miyazaki's films.


"Spirited Away" takes place
in a fantastic bath house.

Again, the same soaring space...

...the same maze of bridges and levels.

In fact, director Hayao Miyazaki
designed the museum personally.

Miyazaki's films begin life
as a series of image boards.

In them, he creates the details
of his story and his characters.

The Ghibli Museum began the same way,
as a series of image boards.

Right from the start, children
having fun were part of that vision.

Here you can see
Ghibli characters - even touch them.

But the biggest exhibit
at the Ghibli Museum...

...isn't the Cat Bus or the Robot Soldier.
Can you guess what it is?

It's the museum itself,
as designed by Miyazaki.

No one knows this better
than director Isao Takahata.

Takahata has worked
alongside Miyazaki for years.

I like the way
they used iron and steel...

...and the way air flows
within the space.

The metal elements
are freestanding, not embedded.

Here's something I liked
the first time I saw it.

This little space under the stairs
never fails to draw Takahata.

Every time he visits,
he has to go inside.

Even as an adult
I can't resist going inside.

I really like this.

Even the bench
is just the right size for a child.

Children like to create small things... the nooks of big spaces.

I used to do that too.

It's something
that appeals to everyone.

The spaces Miyazaki designed
have a strange power.

With Takahata's help, let's explore
the source of that power.

Isao Takahata with Goro Miyazaki,
(Managing Director, Ghibli Museum)

At first you were
a bit skeptical...

...about the idea of Miyazaki
designing a museum.

I wasn't sure how he'd do it.

But the first time
I saw it, I was excited.


I'd seen a few sketches,
but what intrigued me...

...was when I came and
actually walked around.

None of the exhibits
were in place yet.

Naturally the exhibits are important...

...but the building itself is so fascinating
when you walk around in it.

It makes you want to explore
the building from bottom to top.

I love that kind of thing,
so I really like this museum.

I think you
were the first one to write...

...that the biggest exhibit
at the Ghibli Museum is the building itself.

Yes, I really think it is.

The museum is based on Western,
or should I say European style.

Japan has been influenced
by Western architecture...

...and there are many
great examples of that in Japan.

But European architecture
has always cherished little details.

Things like materials, windows,
wall construction, and so forth.

If you want to experience that,
you have to visit Europe.

But you can get a sense
of it in this museum, too.

That's a real achievement.
You get the same feel here.

Visit Europe, and you feel real respect
for their architectural esthetics.

This museum gives you
a similar experience, almost by osmosis.

It's not an exhibit.
You experience it directly.

Japan has absorbed a lot
from the West.

Much of Japan's architecture
follows the Western style.

But you're saying
there's something else?

Japan has absorbed
Western ideals of symmetry.

We've also adapted
Western concepts of partitioning space...

...within an overall structure.

But historically, European towns
were often enclosed by walls.

People had to make the most
of that fixed space.

They kept building
on what was already there.

Right. You see that everywhere.

Buildings on both sides
might be connected above the street.

You can cross over,
like over a bridge.

A fork in the road decides
the shape of a building.

Room might have angled walls.

There are rooms in the attic.

There are so many interesting spaces.

Especially with little towns in Italy... can walk for hours
and never get bored, in a tiny little town.

Each space presents itself
to you in a different way.

I've never had that experience
with Western architecture in Japan.

European cities have charm,
a very human atmosphere.

That's a quality
you don't see in Japan.

I agree.
The European style is very rational...

...but the way they add to structures
creates a feeling of spontaneity.

They have a good sense
of how to use space creatively.

That's especially true in Italy.

Japan imported the basic principles
of European architecture.

Nearly all the Western-style buildings
in Japan have that symmetry.

Our buildings are
very orderly.

Japan stuck to the basics.

In 1990, Hayao Miyazaki traveled to Italy.

His destination
was about an hour from Rome.

After seeing photographs,
Miyazaki wanted to visit firsthand.

This is Calcata, one of Italy's
mysterious hilltop towns.

Long ago, during times of danger
and instability...

...people built towns on steep ridges
or perched on the tops of mountains.

These houses were built
hundreds of years ago.

They've been rebuilt and refashioned
countless times over the centuries.

Calcata is one of the most picturesque
hilltop towns in all of Italy.

The town stands atop
one enormous outcrop.

Centuries of building and rebuilding
within this small area...

...have created
an atmosphere of harmony.

You feel it as soon as you pass
through the fortress-like entrance.

Houses are even built over the streets,
utilizing every inch of space.

The streets of Calcata
are a maze.

Every fork in the path
seems to ask: which way to go?

Takahata discovered,
spaces here are charming and soothing.

The maze of spaces keeps
drawing you inward.

The Ghibli Museum creates
the same feeling for its guests.

In Calcata, you'll eventually find yourself
at the edge of a cliff.

In the Ghibli Museum,
if you keep wandering...'ll eventually find yourself outside.

So many different doors and stairways.
What's around the next corner?

These are buildings
that excite your curiosity.

In the Ghibli Museum,
spaces also invite you to peek inside.

There's a space beneath these steps.
What's it like down there?

Spaces in the Ghibli Museum
tease you with the same question.

Japan does have complicated,
maze-like spaces in some of its cities.

Yes, but they're very rare.

Of course, a few castle towns
were built that way on purpose, for defense.

There are maze-like spaces
meant to slow down an enemy.

But basically, Japanese cities
didn't expand by building upwards.

Nowadays of course they do,
but there's still not much complexity.

For example, there's Himeji Castle.
It's one of my favorites.

What's really interesting
is to walk around inside.

You go through one gate after another,
and the space keeps changing.

You can go into the castle
and enjoy the space inside.

There aren't many places
like it in Japan.

Himeji Castle was built
in the 17th century.

It sits on a 130-foot hill.

Moats and stone walls
form a labyrinth...

Moats and stone walls
form a labyrinth...


...that spirals inward
to the castle keep.

...that spirals inward
to the castle keep.


This is the path
to the keep.

This is the path
to the keep.

Soon a wall blocks your way.
You can't take a direct route.

You're forced to take a long,
twisting route up a steep slope.

We've almost reached
the castle keep.

But - there's no entrance.

To enter, you have to turn 180 degrees
and pass through another gate.

This complicated route is part
of the castle's defenses.

If enemies penetrated
the outer defenses...

...the maze made it easier
to trap and defeat them.

The Ghibli Museum and Himeji Castle.

Their roots are very different,
but Takahata sees similarities too.

Both have mazes
leading upward and downward.


So this interesting aspect of
Western structures didn't come to Japan.

What was it that inspired Miyazaki
to depict these types of buildings... his stories, as well as here
at the Ghibli Museum?

We don't have a Western
structural environment.

But there are many
other influences, such as films.

You don't see these sorts
of buildings around you.

So unfamiliar images
can have a very strong influence.

Also, I think Miyazaki has always
had a talent for spatial design.

I think this is something
he discovered in the course of his career.

Sometimes you encounter scenes
where you have to think very spatially.

For example, Miyazaki once visited
Gotland island in Sweden... scout locations
for "Pippi Longstocking."

Gotland has many small cities.

I think that was
his first direct encounter...

...with this interesting aspect
of Western structures.

I think Miyazaki's trip to Sweden
was also his first visit to Europe.

Did you go with him?

No, I was buried in work.

We were just getting
the "Pippi" series off the ground.

I had to write the first episode myself.

So I was getting things ready
while Miyazaki scouted locations.

Do you remember what
Miyazaki said when he came back?

He was quite excited.
He'd taken a lot of photos.

Now he prefers to sketch on his trips.
Someone else handles the photos.

Visby, the main port
on the island of Gotland.

"Pippi Longstocking"
was never produced.

But Miyazaki's experiences here
bore fruit in his later works.

The imaginary city of Koriko -
setting for "Kiki's Delivery Service."

The imaginary city of Koriko -
setting for " Kiki's Delivery Service."

It's said that Koriko
was modeled on Visby.

Late 2001 . Miyazaki visits Paris
to promote "Spirited Away."

Paris, 8:00 a.m.
The winter sun hasn't fully risen yet.

Miyazaki goes for a morning walk
whenever he's on the road.

It's more than just a break
from his busy schedule.

Walking through old neighborhoods
stimulates Miyazaki's imagination.

His impressions might see
the light of day in one of his films.

The influence of his travels
runs through Miyazaki's work.

The crowded neighborhoods
of Genova influenced "Heidi" ...

... and "From the Apennines to the Andes."

I was with Miyazaki
on his trip to Genova.

We used to discuss
where we should use all the ideas...

...we were getting
from the things we saw there.

These different influences
are very important for animators.

It's not the same as research
or just collecting photos.

You have to actually depict
a way of life.

For example, Marco's school
was in a wealthy neighborhood.

After school he'd go down
to his house near the harbor.

So you need to show
how he gets home.

The audience has to feel
like they're going with him.

They should feel like
they really visited his town.

We wanted to take the audience
into Marco's world...

...not just show it
from the outside.

Let them experience the space.

That's the goal.

The things required to achieve that
are planned from the beginning.

It's a very important technique.

I think they've
brought it to a high level.

In 1976, Takahata and Miyazaki
visited Genova, Italy.

Takahata was preparing to direct
"From the Apennines to the Andes."

Miyazaki was responsible
for locations and layout.

Compared to the flat plains
of Argentina, Genova was beautiful.

The city spreads up a mountain
overlooking the ocean.

Tall houses cluster together
on the steep slopes.

Looking up, you see window shutters
and laundry on the line.

A narrow street threads
its way among the houses.

You hear laughter and
the cheerful sound of chatting in Italian.

All this was an
inspiration for Miyazaki.

I understand you were
one of Miyazaki's inspirations.

That's because
we experienced it together.

I heard you'd both wonder
what a certain house looked like inside.

Then Miyazaki would rack his brains
picturing it and trying to draw it.

Yes, it was quite challenging for him.

We couldn't just walk
into people's houses.

It was easier
when we did "Heidi."

In Genova's old neighborhoods,
it was hard to get a look inside.

But they told us the original interiors
were completely changed.

So it wouldn't have helped
to look around anyway.

Miyazaki had to guess how things looked
in the late 19th century.

Sometimes the settings
he created were so interesting...

...we'd build an episode
around them.

We wrote an episode for "Heidi"
about moving to a new house.

We did the same thing in
"From the Apennines to the Andes."

When you show your characters
moving into a new environment... have to take
the audience along.

That added a lot of interest
to the series.

This is the city of Genova,
as imagined by Miyazaki.

He applied the observations
from his visit...

...but the setting is late 19th century,
so some of it is imagined.

We asked an expert
to take a look at Miyazaki's Genova.

Andrea Rocco is an advisor
for film and television shooting locations.


What about Miyazaki's
imaginary interiors?

Marco, the hero, lives in a working-class
neighborhood near the harbor.

Some of these buildings were here
when Christopher Columbus was a boy.

Miyazaki walked these streets
many times, observing everything carefully.

This sequence of Marco going home
from school is one of the results.


One aspect of Genova
especially interested Miyazaki -

- the old attic rooms.

Even today, the old apartment
houses don't have elevators.

You might have to walk
eight floors to the attic.

This attic room
has been completely modernized.

But the ceiling
still slopes down with the roof.

Windows pierce the thick walls.
It's a unique space.

Outside, you're on the roof.
The view is incredible.

The tall apartment houses
built along the narrow, winding streets...

...extend in ranks
to the harbor below.

The city extends up and down
in a complex vertical landscape.

Putting an attic room in the story
added interest to the city space.

The Ghibli Museum
has something else in common...

...with Genova and the
hilltop towns of Italy.

Even the tiniest town has a square
where you can get a drink of water.

This pump at the Ghibli Museum
gives you the same feeling.

The old hotels of Italy
still use the original elevators.

The hand-operated double doors
have an Old World charm.

The elevator in the Ghibli Museum
was inspired by the same concept.

For Hayao Miyazaki, creativity
begins with careful observation.

But Miyazaki doesn't just
reproduce the things he observes.

He uses his observations
to create something new.


Many of Miyazaki's films
are set in Europe.

But Miyazaki's Europe
is his personal vision.

It's an original world,
built from his imagination.

It's an original world,
built from his imagination.

It's an original world,
built from his imagination.


Miyazaki designed the museum
the same way he designs his films.

It has the same maze-like quality
as the Italian hilltop towns...

...and complicated vertical spaces
like those in Genova.

Then Miyazaki added
his own unique vision.

The museum features a number
of fascinating rooms.

Takahata describes these rooms,
and the maze-like building itself...

Takahata describes these rooms,
and the maze-like building itself...

Takahata describes these rooms,
and the maze-like building itself... a series of tiny universes
where imagination can play.


This exhibit takes the visitor
through the making of an animated film...

...from story development
to completed work.

One humorous exhibit is based
on Miyazaki's work experiences.


In this room, you learn about the history
and principles of animation.



Another aspect of Western structures
is interior shafts, like stairwells.

Like the scene in "Future Boy Conan"
where he's inside the tower.

It's an open shaft,
all the way to the top.

You see the same kind of
structure in "Spirited Away"...

...but in that film, your view
is blocked here and there.

There's a stairway,
but it doesn't take you straight up.

The stairway twists and turns.

I found that intriguing.

Gaudi is that way too.

But strange isn't always interesting.

Animators use familiar elements
from their surroundings.

They don't create things
that don't exist.

I've worked alongside
animators for years.

They almost never try to create
a total fantasy world.

They always use familiar elements.

The question is how to use them
in an interesting way.

Animators aren't vying to create
the most fantastic environments.

Each element is something
that actually exists.

What they do is present them
in imaginative ways.

This gives you complex spaces.

Maybe it's how the sun
enters the space...

...or how the inside and outside
relate to each other.

Maybe you're inside, and you get
a glimpse of the outside world.

You look down and the view
slants off at an unexpected angle.

Sightlines are revealed
or blocked in surprising ways.

These techniques are
used throughout animation.

In animation, you try to stimulate
the audience's imagination.

Get them thinking about
how that world is put together.

Wonderful detailing is another
key aspect of the Ghibli Museum.

Each detail is a small,
carefully designed work of art in itself.

Each one looks different
from different angles.

Each changes from moment to moment
with the angle of the sun.

Another thing that struck me
was how often characters...

...start at the lowest level
of a structure and work their way up.

The story takes them from
the darkest level up into the light.

If there's a lower level, they go there
first, then start upward again.

I heard of one project where they
considered starting out at the top...

...and going downward,
but it didn't feel right.

It doesn't really work, does it?

I was wondering if this
kind of story device...

...appears in other forms
in Miyazaki's films.

It does.
Miyazaki's always looking for ways... communicate a sort of
visceral pleasure in his films.

In the museum, children come in
and rush down to the first floor.

It's like going down
into a dark place.

They're immediately prompted to explore.

They start out
on the lowest level.

Because of that, they're primed
to go exploring.

When they arrive at the bottom,
the first thing they do is look up.

It looks like a labyrinth, with different levels,
people here and there.

There are lots
of nooks and crannies.

Everyone seems to like that.

So they go up, and finally
reach the rooftop.

The whole museum speaks to you
on a kind of visceral level.

I think you're right.

"Spirited Away" takes place
in an enormous bath house.

Chihiro, the heroine,
descends to the lowest level first.

Then she takes
an elevator to the top floor...

...and the plot
takes another turn.

Visitors to the museum also
descend to the lowest level first.

From that starting point, they explore
the museum by moving upwards.


The museum
seems to be about more...

...than just a certain
architectural style.

It's not just a background
for the exhibits.

The building itself feels like
it has functions, a purpose.

Yes, that's part of what
makes it interesting.

You wonder how a window opens,
or where a passage leads.

It adds pleasure
to your experience.

I'm the kind of person who likes to stand
in the first car of a train...

...and look down the track.

It feels good to watch
as the track curves...

...and reveals one different
scene after another.

This museum is perfect
for someone like me.

Miyazaki's design approach
surprised me.

He started with the rooms.

First, he designed each room
according to its purpose.

The entrance,
the windows, everything.

Usually architects
do an overall plan...

...and design individual
spaces afterward.

Miyazaki approached the design
from the opposite direction.

That was extremely interesting.

Yes, I can see
a lot of evidence of that.

The rooms aren't simply
partitions of a building.

They're actually
museum exhibits themselves.

Shuichi Kato once said
that Japanese architecture... based on adding parts
together to create a whole.

In the West, architecture starts
with the overall structure.

Then they decide how the whole
should be partitioned.

I personally feel Miyazaki's films
are very Japanese...

...even though a lot of them
take place in Europe.

He creates a wealth
of different parts.

Then he combines them
to create his story.

This museum is similar.

It works fine here,
because it's a museum.

I think his approach worked
very well in this case.

With your own films,
I feel the opposite approach.

Going from the whole to the parts.
Do you think that's true?

Not necessarily.
I guess I'm Japanese, after all.

The thing that impresses me
about Miyazaki is his belief... the power of individual
parts to be convincing.

He brings those parts together...

...and as a result,
he does in fact convince people.

That's a key aspect of his films.

"Spirited Away" is a good example.

The film is constructed from
fully realized, fascinating details.

In some sense,
the film's story is almost secondary.

That's how interesting the details are.

The details themselves
have the ability to move people.

Films used to be about stars.

If you got three big stars together,
you might have a hit.

That was almost
more important than the story.

Just having really interesting,
unique characters could mean success.

Still, it's not easy
to pull off in practice.

I think the ability to realize
the potential of animation... similar to what's needed
to design a building like this.

I always thought "sensuality"
was a key concept.

Lately I've gotten
Miyazaki to start using that word.

By "sensual" I don't mean sexual.

I'm talking about a palpable,
physical quality.

Something you can feel
with your body. Maybe Eros.

Something visceral.

Right. The individual elements
of Miyazaki's films...

...have that kind of quality.

You can feel that here
in the museum as well.

Takahata calls this "sensual space."

What parts of the museum
strike him as sensual?

We asked him to show us.

Turn right at the bottom
of the stairs...

...and you step
into an inner courtyard.

The courtyard is
actually below ground level...

...but you feel as if
you're at ground level.

Takahata enjoys
being tricked this way.

He likes the complex space
you see when you look up.

He also likes all the wood
you find around you.

There's something soothing
about this spot.

He likes to climb the stairs
and look down from the terrace.

The well of the central hall.

Takahata enjoys viewing the hall
from different levels and angles.

First, the view from below.

Then, up the stairs,
to view the hall from above.

This staircase reminds Takahata
of a Swiss train he once rode.

The train ascended a spiral tunnel...

...and the town below
disappeared from view.

Then each time it reappeared,
it looked smaller.

Going up these stairs
is a similar experience.

The well is spanned
by a bridge.

Takahata enjoys standing
in the middle for a 360-degree view.

Round windows set in thick walls.

Takahata likes this image
of a tunnel to the outside world.

The vivid colors of the stained glass
light up the walls of the tunnel...

...another example of the way
different details accent each other.

The walls of the Gallery area
are also very thick.

They suggest the atmosphere
of a European attic room.

Finally, the rooftop.

Takahata was enthralled when he
first saw this area of the museum.

The space and green
of the garden feel liberating.

I love it here in this season.

It's nice, isn't it?

This summer garden - this vibrant,
waving grass - this is really Japan.

The West doesn't have
scenes like this.

All this lush, tall grass.

I love the way it conveys
the feeling of summer.

Long grass
is a symbol of summer.

This is really wonderful.

This museum is a place for us
to walk and move around.

In a theater, you sit in one spot.

Here, you can walk around,
experience many different perspectives.

It's much more "sensuous"
than watching a movie.

Moving within space
is sensuous in itself.

Space that invites movement
and gives pleasure.

This is what Takahata
means by "sensual."

The secret key
to that enjoyment is hidden... the Ghibli Museum,
designed by Hayao Miyazaki.