Ponyo is playing at Nelson's Civic Theatre this weekend.

COLUMN: A journey, with and without sails

Sher Khan the tiger haunted my dreams for weeks after I saw The Jungle Book.

Some of my earliest — and fondest — movie memories are animated films. Disney movies were always thrilling and just a bit scary. Sher Khan the tiger haunted my dreams for weeks after I saw The Jungle Book.

Erin Daley grew up in Nelson, where “the first movie I ever saw was Disney’s The Fox and the Hound,” she says. “I was tiny and the theatre was enormous — full to over-flowing with families.

“My parents, sister and I couldn’t get seats, so we sat on what I remember as being long wooden benches that lined the far back wall of the hall. I had to stand on the bench to see the movie as I sucked on my red licorice rope. To my young mind, it seemed like the entire world was at the theatre and that the movie was an important event in our lives.”

The kids’ movies showing this coming weekend come from the creative mind of another filmmaking giant: Hayao Miyazaki, known as “the Disney of Japan.” His beautiful movie Ponyo shows Saturday at 4 p.m.; another, Castle in the Sky, shows at 6:45 p.m.

Pixar’s John Lasseter calls Miyazaki the world’s greatest living animator. The brilliant, award-winning founder of Studio Ghibli makes films the old-fashioned way, as the early Disney films were created. Ponyo features 17,000 frames, each drawn individually by hand.

In an interview with the New York Daily News Miyazaki said, through a translator: “The world might be going toward high tech, but I would like to have Studio Ghibli be like a wooden boat that journeys with sails.”

The old-school approach creates its own special magic. And Ponyo, inspired by The Little Mermaid, indeed navigates new seas in its story of a magical goldfish who wills herself into becoming a human girl after she is befriended by a five-year-old boy.

I love that we are showing this film, as well as Castle in the Sky. Miyazaki’s story of flying cities charts new lands of imagination. There are pirates and there is danger, and like that other Disney, things are thrilling and just a bit scary.

That’s sure to put our Saturday audience — which should be an audience of all ages, because these are truly films for everyone — on the edge of their seats, sucking their licorice ropes, rapt.

For those looking for live action, we have Silver Linings Playbook on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9:15 p.m. A special Earth Day film presented by the West Kootenay EcoSociety, A Fierce Green Fire, shows Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Miyazaki’s wooden boat is a beautiful image, but the fact is that while we’d love to sail off into an old-fashioned sunset, we can’t. As the way that films are produced changes, we must become a digital theatre if we want to show films that will enthrall future generations of kids, teens and adults; so that, for a couple of hours, film lovers of all ages can feel like the whole world is right here.

We’ll still have beautiful films. And there’ll still be red licorice.

For more information about the weekend’s films, and about the Nelson Civic Theatre and our Community Challenge (Deadline is May 1. Let’s go digital, Nelson!) go to civictheatre.ca.

Anne DeGrace is the president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Large Popcorn, Extra Butter runs every two weeks. If you have a memory to share please email anne@civictheatre.ca. Find out more at civictheatre.ca.

 

 

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