HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Replacement Killers, The
On Any Sunday
Mourning Forest, The
Orloff Against the Invisible Man
Power Rangers
Loving
Squid and the Whale, The
Hangar 18
Flashback
Goose Steps Out, The
Ghost in the Shell
Anatahan
Elle
Cynic, the Rat and the Fist, The
No Holds Barred
Laughing Dead, The
Other Side of Hope, The
J'accuse!
Handmaiden, The
P'tit Quinquin
Sense of an Ending, The
Rift, The
Frantz
Nocturnal Animals
Get Out
My Life as a Dog
Mooch Goes to Hollywood
Free Fire
Moonlight
Kung Fu Yoga
   
 
Newest Articles
Computer Love: WarGames vs Electric Dreams
Dream Big: Elm Street vs Dreamscape
Whicker's Slicker: Whicker's World Vols 3&4 on DVD
Ladies First: Girls on Film 2 on DVD
Rock Back: 3 Cult Millennium Music Movies
Possession Obsession: Exorcist vs Amityville
The Italian Jobs: Eurocrime! on DVD
And Then? 6 Hollywood Films That Should Have Had Sequels But Didn't
Approaching Menace: The Frighteners on DVD
Oz Factor: Strange Australia on the Cusp of the 80s
   
 
  Princess Arete the clever princessBuy this film here.
Year: 2001
Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Stars: Houko Kuwashima, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Minami Takayama, Satomi Koorogi, Yusuke Numata, Yuko Sasaki
Genre: Drama, Animated, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Confined to her castle tower, Princess Arete watches the world outside her window. Sometimes she sneaks outside to watch the common people at work. Though still a child, her father the King and his ministers decide Arete must marry and secure the legacy of their great civilization. Across the kingdom, knights compete to win her hand by retrieving mysterious magic objects made by a long dead race of sorcerers. The king’s ministers hoard these treasures, but Arete wants none of this and sees through her scheming suitors’ phoney professions of love. She longs to study magic. To travel to exotic lands she has only seen in books hidden under bed.

A chance encounter with a little witch who lost her magic and the discovery of a powerful spell book, fuels Arete’s desire to “become something more than a princess.” One day the sorcerer Boax arrives in his fantastic flying machine. “Your princess has a wicked mind!” he tells the anxious courtiers. “She will never become the sheath you desire.” His solution? “Make her my wife and I will transform her into a proper princess.” Aided by Grovel the frog boy, Boax spirits Princess Arete away to his decrepit castle, where he casts a spell that turns her into a beautiful woman with an enfeebled mind. While Boax studies the spell book, Arete struggles to break free.

This thoughtful, intelligent anime is worthy of comparison to the films of Studio Ghibli. In fact, writer-director Sunao Katabuchi - who helmed the inferior Black Lagoon (2007) - was an assistant director on Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) and scriptwriter on Sherlock Hound (1984). With a source novel (“The Clever Princess” by Diana Coles) drawn from English children’s literature; a bright, independent-minded heroine; lush, evocative animation that merges medieval designs with steampunk fantasy (Boax’s flying machine resembles Leonardo Da Vinci’s helicopter); and a borderline Marxist subtext - the Ghibli influence is heavily apparent. Yet far from mere pastiche, Princess Arete is an enthralling, substantial piece of work.

More a fantasy drama than an adventure romp, the slow pace and unconventional plotting, coupled with a tendency to let viewers figure things out for themselves, may alienate some children and steadfast action fans. Frankly, it’s their loss. Princess Arete examines the dilemmas faced by an intelligent, young girl in medieval Europe with a poet’s hand. Feminism, child exploitation, class conflict and intellectual awakening, all figure in the literate screenplay.

The child bride issue is tackled with wit and insight, as Arete cringes in embarrassment while grown men spout inane love poetry. She beats the boastful Daraboa in a game of chess (in five moves!) and spurns a second knight who tries to fool her with a rose stolen from the royal garden. When Arete speaks of her kingdom’s greatness, Daraboa misunderstands and salivates over its breadth and wealth. Arete points to her subjects. “What is important is each of their minds.” Her cleverness unsettles people including the King who shows not an ounce of fatherly concern throughout the movie. When Boax traps her, it is in the guise of a traditionally passive fairytale heroine who believes she should “sleep and wait for a handsome prince who will save me.” The big set piece is audaciously simple: a young woman sitting in a chair slowly reawakens her mind by the power of a story - one that blossoms into an affecting metaphor for empathic and intellectual growth. Like the best of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, Princess Arete takes a humane view of its characters, with even Boax allotted some sympathy. Scintillating sci-fi twists spin the story in intriguing directions, with a character revealed as the last of an alien race and a mythic golden eagle unmasked as a spaceship.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3958 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Bernard Cribbins
Tom Cruise
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Vikki Sanderson
Darren Jones
Tom Le Surf-hall
Mark Le Surf-hall
  Michael Joy
Andrew Pragasam
   

 

Last Updated: