Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985) - full transcript

On the night of a cat village's Festival of the Stars, a kitten and his friend go on an celestial journey on a magical space locomotive. On that trip, they have various stops where they meet strange sights, even more unusual fellow passengers and learn some lessons of life on their trip to the terminus of the Galactic Railroad.

So, class, as you can see,
it looks like a river,

but it seems to be made of milk.

Can anyone here tell me
what gives it the white glow?

On a clear night, when you look
at the night sky,

our galaxy is like a great river.

So, class, as you can see,
it looks like a river,

but it seems to be made of milk.

Can anyone here tell me
what gives it this white glow?


Me! Me! Me! Me!

Me! Me! Me!


Y- Yes, sir...

Tell me Giovanni, if you see the galaxy
through a telescope, what is it made of?

- Giovanni was sleeping!
- He always does this.

He was late this morning.

He delivers papers every morning.
I feel sorry for him.

Well, you shouldn't!

- All right then, Campanella.
- What's Campanella doing?

- What's with him?
- Maybe Campanella doesn't know, either.

- Then why's he just standing there?
- He'd better say something soon!

- Did you see Giovanni this morning?
- He was playing with Campanella's dog.

Maybe Campanella's ignoring him,
so a dog's the best he can do.

All right. Sit down, the both of you.

If you were to look at our
pale galaxy through a telescope,

you would be able to see
that it is actually a belt of stars.

Right, Giovanni?

Campanella kept quiet just so...

Giovanni wouldn't look
stupid in front of the class.

But I knew it.
Campanella and I both knew.

We had both looked at his father's
galaxy atlas in the den of his house.

...and if we extend
the comparison further,

all of these stars are like little drops
of oil, floating in that sea of milk.

So if we were to look at this
a little more literally,

the "water" of our metaphoric river
is actually the light which speeds...

Giovanni's so absentminded lately...

because his father still hasn't
come back yet.

But won't his dad be home soon?

No way! He went out to capture
otters in the North Sea.

But it was an illegal trip,

and they threw him in jail like
a common criminal!


I was going to discuss the
tremendous size of the galaxy...

and the various types of stars in it,

but it seems that we're
out of time for today.

We'll discuss all that in my next lecture.

The Festival of Stars is tonight.

I encourage everyone to take part
in the celebration.

Well, then, class dismissed!

Let's meet by the aspen trees
at the school gate!

Your father brought this crab
specimen back for us.

Hold it for me, would you?

Your father also brought back
the antlers and...

those rare fossils
in this display case here.

So, have you heard from
your father recently?

No, sir.

I see.

Well, don't worry.

Yes, sir.

Tomorrow I have some errands
to run on your side of town.

I'll probably stop by your house
to say hello to your mother...

and see how she's doing.

Goodbye, sir.

Yes. Goodbye.

I think that your friends are planning to
float lanterns on the river for the festival.

Yeah, but I have to...

Oh, yes. You have to work.

But... maybe if I do my work quickly,

I can go to the river and watch afterwards.

You do that.

Yes, sir!

Yeah! I know how to make them!

Where should we meet?

Under the bridge!

Let's use blue candles!

It'll be easy!
My father showed me how to do it!

- Then you're in charge.
- But do it before the Festival.

We can start at Campanella's
and walk to the town commons!

- Can I bring my little sister?
- Sure, but only if she keeps quiet.

Sorry I'm late.

- Uh... Hello, sir.
- Hmmm?

Do you have any work for me?

Can you set the type for this?

Yes, sir.

Hey there, shrimp.
Keep up the good work!

Excuse me, sir. I'm done.

Thank you very much, sir.

I can't lose my ticket. If I did that...

...I wouldn't be able
to board the train.

Excuse me...

Sugar and a loaf of bread, please.

There. Loaf of bread
and cube sugar.

Thank you.

Here's your change.

Thank you.

Hi, Mom. I'm home.

How are you feeling?

Oh. Is that you, Giovanni?
I'm glad you're home.

I felt much better today.
The weather was so cool.

I got some sugar to put in your milk.
I thought you'd like that.

When did Sis get home?

Around 3 o'clock.
She did the housework for me.

Hey, Mom, didn't they deliver
the milk today?

Isn't it on the counter?

I'll go outside
and get it for you.

No, go ahead and eat.
I'll have something later.

Your sister made some tomato soup.
It should be on the table.

Okay. I'll have a little then.

Say, Mom...

I feel like...

I feel like Father's going to be
back soon. Don't you think so, Mom?

Yes. I think you're right.

This morning I read some of
the papers I was delivering.

They said the fishing was
really good in the north this year.

Well... Your father
might not have gone fishing.

Of course he did. He wouldn't
have done anything illegal.

You know that he isn't like that,

All those times before he brought
back neat things for the school,

like that giant crab shell,
and the reindeer antlers.

The school still has them on display.
Do you know that, Mother?

Your father promised to bring you
an otter-skin coat, didn't he?

The kids at school say that
they're always making fun of me.

Are they bullying you?

Not Campanella.
He doesn't bother me at all.

Campanella's father and your father
have been friends...

since they were very young.

Father used to take me over to
Campanella's house to play sometimes.

That was so much fun...

You know Campanella has a wonderful
toy steam train that runs on alcohol.

Isn't the Festival of Stars tonight?

Yeah. I'm going to the festival after
I go out to get your milk from the dairy.

Good. I'm glad you're going.

But don't go near the river.

I'll watch from the shore.
I'll be back in an hour or so.

Take your time.

I won't worry if you're going to be
with Campanella. Aren't you?

Oh yeah, I'll be with him.

See you. It might actually be
an hour and a half. Have fun.


Are you going to
the town commons?

Giovanni, isn't your father
going to bring you an otter-skin coat?

Zanelli... He's such an idiot!

Some people see the galaxy
as a giant river of milk...

and all of these stars are
like drops of oil...

...floating in that sea of milk.

Here, where we live,
exists as the stars do.

Our sun and the Earth itself
float within this sea.

You could even say that we all live in
the waters of the river of heaven...

- The Centaurus Festival!
- Centaurus Festival!

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.
I have to get Mom's milk.


Anybody there?

Um, I'm sorry to bother you
but we didn't get our milk today,

so I came to get it.

So I... I came here
to pick up our milk.

I can't help you.
No one's here right now.

Come back tomorrow.

I'm sorry, but I really need
to get it tonight!

What's the rush?
Are you going to miss your train?

Uh. No. You see, my mother's sick,
and she really needs it tonight.

I see. Well,
come back a little later.


Hey, Giovanni! I can't wait to see
your new otter-skin coat!

We can't WAIT to see your new
otter-skin coat!

We can't WAIT to see your new
otter-skin coat!

Oh, my. What's wrong?

Every light up there in that
glowing band is actually a star.

Galaxy Station!
Current stop: Galaxy Station!


They really tried.

The others all ran after me,
but they were just too late.

Even Zanelli.
He ran as fast as he could...

but he just wasn't fast enough.

So, are they
waiting for you somewhere?

Zanelli's already gone home.

His father came by to get him.

What's wrong?

Your coat is all wet. You look like
you're covered with dew or something.

Darn it! I lost my canteen.
It must have dropped it.

But that's okay.

Swan Station is coming up soon.

I love to watch swans.
They're so beautiful.

I can spot them from miles away,
as they glide across the river.

What a neat map!
Where did you get it?

It looks like
it's made out of obsidian!

I got it at the Galaxy Station.
Didn't they give one there too?

I don't really remember
being at any Galaxy Station.

Hey, this spot is
where we are right now, isn't it?


The riverbed is
shining in the moonlight.

It's starlight, not moonlight!
That's the glow of the galaxy.

What? What is it?

I didn't think we'd get a chance
to go off on our own tonight.

I mean, did you, Campanella?

What do you mean? You thought
we'd be with everyone from school?

No, not that. Forget it.

Look, those must be
the fields of heaven outside.

This train doesn't burn coal, does it?
Maybe alcohol?

It must run on electricity.

Look, the gentian flowers
are blooming.

It's finally autumn...

I'm going to jump out
and pick some of them!

I promise I'll be right back, okay?

It's too late. Look, we've already
passed them. They're far behind.


I hope my mother forgives me for this.
I tried my best.

Oh, yeah, my mother!
She must be very far away by now.

I'll bet she's thinking about me.

Giovanni. You know,

I would do anything in the world
to make my mother happy.

But sometimes I wonder if
there is something I could do...

that would make her TRULY happy?

What do you mean?
I'm sure your mother is happy.

Why do you think she wouldn't be?

I don't know
how to explain it...

...but I think people are happiest
when they do something truly good.

That's why I think my mother
will forgive me for what I've done.

If people really do try to do their best,
I think everyone could be happy.

It looks like
we'll be at Swan Station soon!

We'll arrive at
exactly 11 o'clock.

There will be a 20-minute stopover.

Hey, do you think
we should go outside and look around.

Let's walk around a little bit.

What a huge station!

Where'd everyone go?
No one's here.

You're right.

Which way do you want to go?

Straight ahead.

Okay! I'll race you!

What is it?

There's a tiny door there.

We should try going down.

Why not?

It goes pretty far down.
Think we should try it?

Let's do it.

It's a town commons.

Everyone's gone from here too.

Looks like it.

Something's written over there.

"This way to the Pliocene Coast."
Let's go!

They look just like the stone steps
that go down to the river.

How far down do
you think it goes?

I don't know.

Every grain of sand is
a crystalline jewel.

There's a spark
of fire inside every one.

Someone's up ahead of us!

Let's go and have a look.

What is it?

It's a walnut.
Just look! They're everywhere.

That's a huge one!

It's twice as big as a normal walnut.

And it looks in perfect shape!

Look over there! It's them.

I think they're digging something up.

Remember, be careful
near that outcropping!

Use the shovel!
You'd better dig a little farther back!

Careful, careful!
Try to work gently!

Are you here to observe?

Yes, sir.

I see there that you have
found yourself a walnut!

There were millions of them, once.

That walnut dates from
1 .2 million years ago.

Over a million years?

We've dated these rocks.

They come from the Tertiary Era,
1 .2 million years ago.

Be careful with that chisel!
Not so hard!

We've found an ancient animal
called a vos,

which was the ancestor
of our modern cow.

Will you put it on display?

No, this is pure research.

From here, this looks like a thick,
rich, fossil stratum.

The evidence indicates that
the rocks are 1 .2 million years old.

But to others, this region might
look completely different.

You see, it all depends on
who might be looking at it.

To someone else, this whole area
might appear to be air, or even water...

or an empty patch of sky.

Do you understand? Still...

Hey, be careful!
Don't use the shovel there!

That ground is too soft!

Yes, sir! Gotcha!

It's time to go!

But I want to see a little more.

We can't.
We'll miss the train if we stay.

Let's go!

Thanks a lot, sir!

Very well. Goodbye.

Huh? The whole town has changed.

Everything turned to stone.


We made it back!

We just ran as fast as the wind...
for 1 .2 million years!

It's amazing.

Yeah, for 1 .2 million years!

S'cuse me.
Is it all right if I sit here?

Uh... Yeah... sure.

Thank you very much,
young gentleman.

Where is it you two boys
are headed off to?

To the end of the universe!

I see. That's wonderful.

You know, this train can actually
take you there.

And where is it
that you're heading to, sir?

The next stop.
I'm a bird catcher so I get off next.

What do you do with them
after you catch them?

You eat them. Why, haven't you
ever eaten a bird?

Here, look at these.
I just caught these herons yesterday.

And you really eat them?

Sure. I get orders for them every day.

Who in the world
could eat a heron?

Everyone eats them! Here,
why don't you try some for yourself?

Here you go.

And some for you, too.

Please, go ahead, eat some.

Go ahead.

This is... It's candy!

Why don't you try it, too?

Sure. Thanks a lot.

What magnificent herons!

Thank you very much.

So, tell me, do the migratory flocks
look promising this year or not?

Oh, yes! They're incredible!

There are hordes of birds coming in
from all over! They're everywhere.

Just a couple of days ago,
I got some complaint calls.

People were calling to tell me...

I shouldn't be blinking
the lighthouse light.

I told them I wasn't doing any
such thing. It wasn't my fault.

There were huge flocks of birds in front
of the light, one right after another!

I told those idiots, " Look, I can't do
anything about a bunch of birds!...

If you wanna complain, then complain
to the big one who leads the flock."

" He's easy to spot: Long legs,
a huge beak, and a rustling cape!"

Yeah, that's what I told them.

Ah, yes. This is my stop.

Hey, he's out there!

Ah, that was refreshing!

There's really nothing more satisfying
than hard work at a job you do well.

You have geese and heron.
Can you get cranes?

Sure, there's plenty of them
all around.

You can hear them now. Go on.

Just listen carefully
and you'll hear them.

It's the wireless operator.

Thank you very much.

Here, take my hand.

Right here, sir?

Yes. Thank you both.

Excuse me,
but do you hear anything?

What are you hearing?
Please tell us!

I don't know.

I've been picking this up
for a while now,

but I can't seem to decipher it.

What does it sound like?
Is it some sort of secret code?

Can you take dictation for me?

Sure. Yes, sir.

The static is pretty bad.


There's more static.




That's all there is.

Nothing but static after that.

What is it?

The signal just keeps repeating over
and over again. Always the same.

I can pick it up on the wireless.

...God to Thee near
even though it be a cross...

...eth me still
all my song shall be...

So what do you think it means?

I don't know.

It's number 306.

Number 306.

306? What's that?

Number 306.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

Even though it be a cross
that raiseth me,

Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee.

It's an appeal to be carried away
to Heaven. A prayer for salvation.

- A prayer? Whose prayer?
- I don't know.

But they probably know,
in the observatory at Albireo.

The observatory at Albireo?

We're already leaving the Swan.

You can see the observatory
at Albireo outside right now.

Of course, they probably won't
give you an answer.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee!

Even though it be a cross
that raiseth me,

Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to Thee.

- Ticket inspection!
- Huh?

Ticket inspection!
It's time for ticket inspection!

May I have your tickets, please? Hmm...


Your ticket, please.

Excuse me, sir, but did you get
this ticket in the third dimension?

I'm not really sure where I got it...

Very well, sir.

We will reach the Southern Cross
at precisely 3 o'clock, sir.

My ticket is different.

Can my ticket take me
where you're going?

Of course!
That's an incredibly rare ticket!

It can even take you... Yes,
it can take you to the true Heaven!

Why, with that ticket...

Yes, I see! It'll take you
to everywhere this train runs,

anywhere in the fourth
dimension of dreams.

You must be very special indeed!

I don't understand.

Are you maybe...?

Yes, of course.

I knew you were different
from everyone else here!

That's it, isn't it?
You're... Still, I can't believe it!

I've never seen a ticket
like that before!

Eagle Station's coming up soon.

Hey... No matter where we go,
we'll be together, right?

Look, that man's gone.
Where did he go?

I wonder where he went?

I sorta wish now that I had spent
more time talking to him.

It kind of felt like he was interrupting.
I wanted him to leave...

...but now I feel bad.

Yeah. Me, too.

All of a sudden, I smell apples.

Yeah, you're right.
I smell them, too.

Thank you.

The ship we were on hit
a huge iceberg and sank.

I was hired as a tutor
to these children.

Two months ago, their father was
called home on business.

He left his daughter
and son in my care.

We were on our way home
to join him.

It was late at night, and we could
barely see the moonlight.

The fog was incredibly thick.

Then we hit the iceberg,

and the ship immediately began
to sink and list over.

The decks filled with water.

The port side lifeboats were
already underwater,

so there weren't enough boats
to go around.

The people around us quickly stepped
aside to open a path and let us through.

But it was clear that there were
far too many elderly and children...

for the boats that were left.

I'm responsible for these two children.
Their father left them in my care.

I am their tutor...

and he would want me to try and save
them, so I began to push forward.

But I thought about what would
bring them true happiness.

What if I could truly save them,
even if it cost them their lives?

Allowing us to die would be
my sin alone.

The best thing for them
might be to go now, together... be with God.
Better than to be saved this way.

But I remembered that it was my duty
to save their lives, so I pushed ahead.

I got desperate and started
shouting for them to get...

these children into the lifeboats.

But as I saw mothers say goodbye
to their children forever...

...and as I saw fathers stand silently by,
desperately trying to hold back tears...

...I made my decision.

I decided that we would float
together as long as possible.

So I held them, and the three of us
waited for the ship to sink.

I'm not sure what happiness really is.

But if you keep to the true path
and listen to your heart...

even under terrible conditions,
you can climb any mountain...

no matter how high.

I believe we can all reach true
happiness, one step at a time.

Yes. I agree.

To reach true happiness,
we must serve God...

even if we do so from
the depths of our despair.

- Would you care for an apple?
- Uh?

Oh, it's so beautiful.

Please, go ahead and have some.

Would you care for an apple?
Let's share.

Thanks so much.

Thank you.

Where do these delicious apples
come from? They're wonderful!

Around here, things just seem to
grow on their own, without effort.

It isn't hard at all.

If you sow the proper seeds, you'll find
they bloom quickly all by themselves.

I see.

It's true for apples
and even for candy...

I was dreaming.
I was dreaming about my mother.

She was just asking me
if I wanted a nice big red apple.

And when I woke up,
I was holding one!

Oh, we're still on the train.

What a beautiful apple!

It smells delicious.

I must have smelled it in my sleep.

Look, crows! Out the window.

Oh yeah. There's a
whole bunch of them outside!

Those aren't crows.
They're magpies, actually.

Oh, I see...

Wow! Look at them all...

Look! More apples!

That's hymn 306.

Those people in the forest out
there are singing in chorus.

Look! It's a field of corn!

Yeah, yeah, it is.

There, it's the station.

That sounds like the
New World Symphony.

What is it?

There was a boy outside
standing in front of a small house.


I think I know him.
I've seen that boy.

I know that boy, too.

Then we must have met him
somewhere before.

We're in this region now, aren't we?

That's right.

Huh? Is that on fire?

That's the Flame of Scorpio.

I know all about that Flame.

What's the Flame of Scorpio?

It's a scorpion that burned to death.
It burst into flames.

It was so hot...
it is still burning today.

Scorpions are really bad bugs!

My teacher told me that...

they'll try to sting you with
their tail and you can die!

That's true, but scorpions aren't bad.

Our father told us once about
the scorpion of Baldora Field.

The scorpion killed other bugs
and ate them.

Then one day, a weasel found him.

The scorpion fled,
and fell into a deep well.

He was trapped, and knew he'd die.

Then, he thought to himself, " How
often have I eaten other creatures?"

"And now, the one time that
I was the prey, I fled in utter terror."

"And look what came of that.
I'll die in this well, alone."

"Ah... Life is filled with uncertainty."

"Why didn't I accept my fate? If I had
freely given my life to to the weasel, ."

"I would have given him
another day of life."

" But now my death will help no one.
I am useless."

" Dear Lord, I beg of you, look into
my heart and hear my prayer."

"In my next life, don't let me
waste myself."

" Let me use my body for the true
happiness of everyone in the world."

And then the scorpion burst into flame:
A brilliant crimson glow.

And by the light of his burning body,
he lit up the night forever.

How beautiful.

We're at the village of Centaurus!

Centaurus! The Festival!

Yeah! You're right!
It's the Festival of Stars!

It looks like everyone is out celebrating
the Centaurus Festival tonight.

We'll be at the Southern Cross soon.
Get ready to disembark.

We'll be at the
Southern Cross soon.

We need to get ready to go now.

I want to stay here on the train!
I don't want to go.

I know, but we have to get off here.

No! I'm staying on the train!
I want to ride some more!

I'm sorry but we have to get off here.
It's time for us all to go.

Now, be a good boy.
This is where we get to Heaven.

Come, we need to go.

Well... Goodbye, then.



I guess... It's just the two of us now.

Hey, let's just keep going
like this forever! Okay?

That's right! We'll always be together,
won't we, Campanella?

Hmm... Yes, I'd like that.

But then again,
where exactly are we going, anyway?

Well, I... I don't know.

As long as we're together!

Hey! Look at that!

It's the Coal Sack - a hole in the sky.

What's wrong? Hey, don't worry!
I'm not afraid of the dark anymore.

We'll get through
this together, won't we?

Yeah, I guess you're right then.
We will get through it.

Look at that lovely field out there.
It's so beautiful. So peaceful.

What field?

That must be the field
of the true Heaven.

I see now. That's where my mother is.
She's waiting for me.

Campanella, we'll always
be together, won't we?


Campanella, wait!
Wait! I'm going with you!

Goodbye, Giovanni, my friend.

No! Wait!

You said we'd be together forever!
You promised!

Open up! Open up! Campanella!

Open up! Open up! Campanella!

Goodbye, Giovanni...



Oh, yeah!
Mother hasn't had dinner yet.

She's still waiting for me.



Excuse me,
but we didn't get our milk today.

Oh, I'm terribly sorry.
That's all my fault!

I'm afraid I left the calf's gate
open this afternoon.

He went straight for his mother
and drank half her milk...

before I could stop him!
Wouldn't you know.

There we go.

Oh, I see. Thank you very much.

I'm very sorry.

It's all right.

Marceau, what's wrong?

Giovanni, hurry!
Everybody's all down by the river!

The river?

Campanella fell in the river!

Zanelli was standing in
one of the boats.

He leaned out to put
his lantern in the water...

where the current could catch it...

But the boat lurched and Zanelli
fell in and started to sink!

Campanella dove right in after him!

He swam down and pushed
Zanelli back to the boat!

Kato grabbed Zanelli and pulled
him back in, but by then... by then...!

By then, Campanella had
disappeared! Completely.

Everyone in town is down there
searching for him!

His father's there, too.

But they haven't found him.
They took Zanelli home, already.

Well.. He may be further
downstream by now.

No. It's no use now.
It's been 45 minutes since he fell in.

Then... We should stop?


Giovanni. I'm sorry
but I didn't see you there.

I want to thank you very much
for coming here tonight.

I've been meaning to ask you, has your
father returned home from the north yet?


I wonder what's wrong?

He seemed very happy in the letter
I got from him just a few days ago.

He should have been home today.

Maybe his boat is late.

Giovanni, if you would please...

bring your classmates over to
my house after school tomorrow.

I know Campanella is out there.

He's there, at the edge
of the universe.

I know, because we explored it together.

I vow to be like that scorpion.
Dear Lord, hear my prayer.

For the true happiness of everyone,...

I will let my body burn
a hundred times over.


No matter where I go,
we'll always be together.

The phenomenon that is myself,

Is one of the imagined organic lights;

One of its blue illuminations,

Consisting of all kinds of
transparent ghosts.

While it flickers energetically,

With the scenery, with everyone,

It is a blue illumination of a lamp,

whose alternating currents are
indeed burning very brightly.

While maintaining
the light, the lamp is lost.

This is my appreciation of
the past 22 months;

So I have entered all this on paper,
with mineral ink.

It all flickers with me,

Everyone can feel it,
at the same time.

A piece of the shadow and the light
that I have kept until now,

Are, as you see, a mental sketch.