S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

The Castle of Cagliostro

I've never seen any of the Lupin manga or anime before, but theengineer very generously gave me a copy of The Castle of Cagliostro for Christmas. To make my evening a nice one despite missing out on all tonight's big events, I curled up with a glass of orange juice and watched the movie tonight. I've enjoyed all the Miyazaki movies I've seen thus far - not many, really - and had every reason to expect good things from this one. It did not disappoint!

What a fun movie! What a nicely constructed movie! It had good flow, fun characters, and some nifty technology. I really liked the gyrocopter, and the Shadows' gauntlets were pretty impressive. I've never seen gauntlets portrayed so effectively and versatilely. Also, I liked Lupin's replacement ring - complete with confetti, a pop-up bouncy head, AND a loudspeaker/radio! What more could one want in a ring? I mean, really? The string of flags was also rather fetching: the thief reminding the Princess of her real standing among nations, when she's busy being all locked up.

It was refreshing to have a hell-hole-type dungeon without a killer monster in it. It helped make the movie more real-worldish. The despair of being locked in with lots of ancient skeletons and no hope of escape, all by itself, was considered torture enough. And they always had the option of killing off the prisoners if they thought starving them to death was too boring.

I wish I knew more about political history than I do. The concept of all the regimes of power from the Middle Ages on being affected by the bill-printing from this kingdom was good, but it might have meant more to me - or been more ridiculous, I don' t know which - if I knew more about the monetary foundation of all the regimes in question. According to the first website I found on the history of money, printed paper money wasn't common in Western Europe until the mid-18th century. The earliest known instance of it in any form was 9th century China, although after 15th century depreciation, paper currency fell out of use there for several centuries. So the movie's first feasible example would have been Napoleon. Okay, I liked the movie better before I knew this. Actually wait - perhaps they were minted fake coins before the 18th century? Out of what?

I loved the final treasure! What a delightful and suitably convincing windfall to come from everything that had happened. It helped keep Lupin virtuous. Did he know or suspect what it was when he offered to trade the rings for the girl? Presumably it was a gamble, since doing in the source of all that counterfeit money was enough of a good outcome for him.

Minor unanswered wonders: The Count tells the Princess that the Cagliostro blood flows through her veins, that she too is a murderer. Equally, even before this scene occurs, the Princess tells Lupin not to bother rescuing her, since she's a Cagliostro, and thus somehow cursed. There was no follow-up to this, nor any set-up for it, unless it's just to show the Count's been trying to brainwash her all this time she was at the convent? She never seemed to have any further hangups over her bloodline on this particular point.

Did they turn off the laser-disintegration system before letting the wedding guests in? When the post-wedding chase sequence was going on, guards were running all over the grass! Also, I idly wondered what the wheel which Lupin pried loose drove, since, as was shown by the subsequent events, the wheel clearly wasn't necessary to drive the clock!

Is there a tradition of important Japanese youngsters in anime having moon-and-sun ceilinged bedrooms? I was briefly reminded of Baby's bedroom in Spirited Away, seeing the Princess' more refined variant.

I did occasionally wonder about aspects that may or may not be more fully explained in the other movies or series or manga. For example, is there a story behind the samurai's sword? Is there a background behind how all 4 thief-types developed their friendship and Lupin's rivalry with the Interpol inspector? Is there more to know about Lupin's family tradition of thievery?

This may sound perverse, but seeing The Castle of Cagliostro did actually make me appreciate the quality of animation in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron more. Yes, Castle is an older movie, but Spirit's animation is particularly lush, especially the hand drawn elements in it. There were lovely moments with horse manes. I don't want to make a further comparison though. In pretty much every other respect, Castle is by far the better movie! And anyways, Castle's animation worked just fine to tell its story. (In case you're wondering why I'm even making such an unlikely comparison, I watched Spirit last weekend. It's the other most recent animated movie I watched, lent to me by pittenweem.)

Random other notes on the movie: I was just looking through a few of the webpages about Castle and noticed that one of them says that Steven Spielberg once called this movie "one of the greatest adventure movies of all time." And here's a review which pretty much manages to avoid spoilers.

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