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Tales From Earthsea

An anime film from Studio Ghibli

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Goro Miyazaki's directorial debut

  • May 25, 2011

Tales From Earthseais a film that is loosely based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.  The film was directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki.

At the beginning of the film, drought and pestilence is spreading throughout the land.  The main character of the film is Arren, and he is the prince of the land.  Arren murders his father, takes his sword, and runs away.  He is saved by a man named Sparrowhawk, who is the Archmage of the wizards.  When the two of them are in the city of Hortown, Arren ends up in the town alone.  He becomes scared, and is convinced someone is following him.  As he runs away from what he thinks is following him, he comes across a young girl named Therru, who is fleeing from a slave hunter.  Arren saves her.  This event ends up setting the rest of the story in motion.

Tales From Earthsea tried to take elements from four different books and put them together into one film.  I have not read this series myself yet, but from what I’ve heard, it’s been said that the plot was a major departure from the story in the books.  When watching the film, I could definitely sense that the narrative felt a little choppy.  Since I have not read the books, I don’t know if the narrative would have been stronger if the film had more closely followed the books.
Tales From Earthsea was released as a single DVD in the United States.  On the main menu, there are options for play all, scene selection, audio, previews, and bonus features.  For the film you can either watch the whole film, or you can select which scene or scenes you want to see.  In the set up menu, you can choose your language, choose your subtitles, and you can register the DVD.  For languages, there is English and Japanese.  For subtitles, there is English for the hearing impaired, English, and French.  The sneak peeks are for trailers for various properties being promoted by Disney.
The special features are split into two sections: “Behind the Studio” and “Enter the Lands.”  For “Behind the Studio,” there is only a four minute documentary titled, “Origins of Earthsea.”  Most of this feature is in Japanese with English subtitles, since the bulk of this piece is producer Toshio Suzuki talking about the project.  The only English dialogue comes from the scenes from the film (since they come from the English dub), and one interview piece with an animation historian.
In “Enter the Lands,” there is a menu that features elements from all of Studio Ghibli’s films.  However, only the elements from Tales From Earthsea, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky have elements that can be selected.  For Tales From Earthsea, there is a Studio Ghibli trivia challenge.  For the remaining areas, you see a short promo, followed by a menu with clickable elements (characters give you character bios, and other items react when chosen).  Ponyo has one page, while the others have 3-4 menu pages.
Admittedly, Tales From Earthsea is not one of Studio Ghibli’s better films.  I think I was able to better enjoy than I might have, since I have no familiarity with the source material.  However, if you’re a fan of the Earthsea books, my suspicion is that you probably wouldn’t enjoy the film very much.  I would only recommend purchasing this DVD if you’re a fan of Studio Ghilbli and you want to own every film released by the studio.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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June 11, 2011
Excellent review.
May 25, 2011
Great review for the dvd! Happy that you included the features. I need to review an anime real soon! Thanks, Lesley!
More Tales From Earthsea reviews
review by . March 31, 2013
posted in ASIANatomy
What a disjointed mess of a film this is. Studio Ghibli has made a handful of sub par films in the past, nothing bad just a few films that don't quite live up to their incredibly high standards. For a studio with such an outstanding track record its hard for me to fathom how this film was made. Did they think that just because they got the son of Hayao Miyazaki to direct it that it would turn out to be gold? The story is all over place, it takes forever to get going, and to top it off its main character …
review by . April 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****       Hayao Miyazaki has collaborated with Studio Ghibli and made some of the best animated features out there. "Spirited Away" is one of my favorite films, as well as one of the very best in the animated category. Now, his son has begun to direct. His name is Goro Miyazaki, and he continues his dad's legacy by working with the same Animation Studio, and of course, still working with Anime. But why wouldn't he? That's a question that does not need to …
review by . October 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Title: Tales From Earthsea   Director: Goro Miyazaki   Starring: Timothy Dalton, Willem DaFoe   Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   Studio: Studio Ghibli   Genre(s): Fantasy   Rated:       (For some violent images)     Buy From DVD / BluRay / Soundtrack [IMPORT] / Novel    Studio Ghibli’s “Tales From Earthsea” has had a long and hectic road. Years ago Academy Award-winning …
About the reviewer
Lesley Muir Aeschliman ()
Ranked #59
I'm a freelance writer whocovers anime and manga on her blog, Lesley's Musings... on Anime & Manga. I also have a music blog called AeschTunes that I post at every once in a while.   … more
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