Thursday, 10 March 2011

Imaginary Flying Machines (2002)

The dominant theme to be found in the works of Hayao Miyazaki is a holdover from Miyazaki’s youth, when his father and uncle were in business together as Miyazaki Airplane, building parts for the World War II Japanese airforce. Flight, airplanes and all manner of creative airships appealed to the younger Miyazaki from a very early age, and for the better part of his life, his technical skill at drawing machinery surpassed his ability to draw the more natural forms of the human body.

That interest in aircraft led to Studio Ghibli productions like Porco Rosso and Castle in the Sky. It also led to a full-blown exhibit of an alternate history of flight and 19th century fictional technology to be found at the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. The "Imaginary Flying Machines" section of "Castle in the Sky and Imaginary Science Fiction Machines" featured as its centrepiece a flying craft invented by Castle in the Sky's Pazu. His invention of the craft could be seen in the short film, hosted by a porcine stand-in for Miyazaki which also toured viewers through the evolution of flight in Scientific Romances.

Unfortunately for those of us in the West, this 2002 short Imaginary Flying Machines was exclusive to the Studio Ghibli Museum and has never been made available on home video. One's best chance to see it is by sheer luck while flying on Japan Air Lines. The short is sometimes shown as in-flight entertainment.



The lize-size Alcione and an animated Pazu at work on it.



A strong French influence in these aircraft, typical of Miyazaki's occidentalism.


The very early days of flight.





Fish machines!


Echoes of Albert Robida...


... Fritz Lang...


... And Jules Verne.

4 comments:

Biblioadonis aka George said...

Thanks for posting this. Miyazaki is an amazing filmmaker.

A must for any fan of movies...not just animation.

Anonymous said...

it is a great film, though unfortunately only in japanese. you can watch it on many JAL flights :)

Cory Gross said...

Thanks Anonymous! If I had known that, I would have flown JAL instead of Air Canada!

Dragonater said...

Porco Rosso and Castle in the Sky are excellent anime.