Anime auteur takes new look at ancient tale

Anime auteur takes new look at ancient tale

JAPAN - What is the truth behind Kaguyahime, or Princess Kaguya?

In his first film in 14 years-"Kaguyahime no Monogatari" (The Tale of Princess Kaguya), director Isao Takahata attempts to uncover the hidden story behind the Japanese fairy tale "Taketori Monogatari" (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter).

Turning his back on the prevailing use of realistic images in films today, the anime film master dared to use more organic freehand forms of visual expression.

Dating back to the Heian period (794-1192), "Taketori Monogatari" is Japan's oldest narrative literature.

Takahata said he came up with the idea of dramatizing the classic work about 55 years ago, when he was working for Toei Doga (currently Toei Animation Co.). The company proposed the idea of producing an anime film based on the story by master director Tomu Uchida, and all the employees were asked to submit a plan.

The story centers on a baby girl who emerges from a mysterious glowing stalk of bamboo. She grows into a beautiful woman who receives marriage proposals from a number of noblemen but rejects all their advances. Then one day, a special messenger arrives to take her back to the moon, her original home.

The original story's simplicity made Takahata curious.

He wondered: "Why did Kaguyahime come to Earth and return to the moon?"

In the original story, Kaguyahime talks about a "promise in the past," suggesting that she came to Earth based on a promise she made while living on the moon.

"I thought I'd be able to depict the true story of Princess Kaguya [if I could explain the reason]," Takahata said.

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