LAPUTA - CASTLE IN THE SKY
Region 2 (UK) Edition - Reviewed by Andy Davidson
James Van Der Beek,
Anna Paquin, Cloris Leachman
Laputa - Castle in the Sky was the
film that laid the foundations for the creation of the world-famous Studio
Ghibli. Miyazaki’s 1986 film follows the adventures of a young boy, Pazu
and his mysterious friend, Sheeta, a girl who quite literally falls out of
the sky and into his arms. Pursued by government agents and a gang of
wonderfully over-the-top sky pirates, Sheeta is the owner of a mysterious
gemstone, one which possesses magical powers and may well be the key to
unlocking the secret of the legendary castle in the sky, Laputa.
Laputa is a tale of greed; both the
government agents and the pirates are searching for the mythical castle,
fuelled by their own fantasies of what they can exploit from it; both
military supremacy and fabulous riches. Only Pazu and Sheeta have pure
motives and as such it is they who ultimately discover the castle and have
a say in its ultimate fate.
Of all Miyazaki’s films, Laputa
stands apart as the most lavishly realised. Set largely around an unnamed
mining town, Miyazaki visited several such places in Wales while
researching the film. That research, coupled with Miyazaki’s own unique
view of the world, led to the creation of a staggeringly beautiful and
intricate landscape, one with towering cliffs, caves of glittering jewels
and communities living in seemingly impossible circumstances. Laputa,
itself, is a similarly beautiful achievement – the castle and those who
inhabit it are the work of a unique talent.
While it’s true
that Laputa lacks the emotional depth of Miyazaki’s later films and
that the story itself is fairly simplistic, the film has a spectacle like
no other. The locations are gorgeous, the action is breathtaking and the
slow realisation of the power of Laputa and its defenders is deeply
unsettling. Those more familiar with recent Ghibli output may be surprised
at the somewhat light characterisations and simple story, but there’re
more than enough here to captivate audiences for the 2 hours’ running
Sticking to their established format,
Laputa - Castle in the Sky is presented on a single disc along with a
number of extras culled from the various editions of the film that have
been released around the world.
The film is presented in windowboxed format, with an aspect ratio of
1.77:1 This closely replicates its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This
appears to be the same print as used on the recent US edition; as such
while the colour palette is rich and well realised, there is slight
edge-enhancement visible throughout the film.
The film can be viewed in its original Japanese, with English subtitles
and optional captions for the hard of hearing. The Disney-produced English
dub of the film, starring James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin and Cloris
Leachman is also included and stands as one of the better Ghibli dubs so
far available. Both audio tracks are in Dolby Digital 2.0 format (at
As with Optimum’s other Ghibli releases,
the English subtitles and captions appear in garish yellow over the
picture itself and can prove quite distracting.
The opening menu screens feature are somewhat downplayed, with just a
night sky, a few clouds and a shot of Laputa flying across the screen.
It’s an odd choice, given the countless other beautiful images Optimum
could have chosen from the film.
Menu screens for the disc can be found
Textless Opening & Closing (4m 52)
The viewer has the option to see the opening and closing credits from
Laputa, minus credits. While at first glance this may seem something of a
waste of time, the artwork evident at the start of the film certainly
deserves a closer look.
History of the Castle in the Sky (2m 25s)
This appears to be the opening sequence from the film told in a mix of
original storyboard and final animation. It’s inclusion is superfluous
given that both are already available elsewhere on the disc. Pure filler.
The entire film can be viewed in storyboard form. Originally presented for
the Japanese DVD release, the “Angle” button on your remote allows the
viewer to alternate between the original storyboard art for the film and
the finished product.
Original Trailers (4m 26s)
Four original cinematic trailers are included from the film’s original
release. These are in the original Japanese with removable English
Studio Ghibli Collection Trailer (10m 45s)
Optimum are, of course, releasing the entire series of Studio Ghibli
films. To promote the other films, we are presented with a ten-minute
compilation of trailers from Ghibli’s other work.
Laputa - Castle in
the Sky is an essential purchase for fans of anime, as well as die-hard
Miyazaki followers. The attention to detail throughout the film is simply
staggering and while the story is relatively simple, compared to later
offerings, the characters are fun and engaging and there’s enough action
throughout the film to keep the viewer fully engaged.
The Studio Ghibli Collection
Laputa - Castle in the
DVD reviewed February 2006