DVD Review: Tales from Earthsea

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DVD Review: Tales from Earthsea

Disney and Studio Ghibli are bringing Gorō Miyazaki’s epic film “Tales from Earthsea” to DVD on March 8, 2011. This story is based on the “Earthsea” fantasy book series by Ursula K. Le Guin.

This is the first film adaptation of any part of the the “Earthsea” series, as previously, the author denied requests from others to adapt her work to the big screen. Hayao Miyazaki received approval to create the anime version after winning an Oscar for “Spirited Away,” but he was engaged on another project at the time. Therefore, his son stepped in and took charge of bringing this masterpiece to life.

The film was originally released in Japan in 2006 and had a limited release in the United States in August 2010. Now in March 2011, US families will be able to bring the magic home to share with others and enjoy again and again.

This tale revolves around the world of Earthsea which is experiencing troublesome events and dark times due to an imbalance man has created in the world. In the world of Earthsea, magic is still alive and respected, but it’s focus on nature and the communion of man with all things in nature has been lost. We won’t tell you anymore because we don’t want to give it away, but basically, our heroes have to fight to regain the balance.

The striking visual style and sweeping orchestral soundtrack work in unison to provide an engaging experience for the viewer. It is as if you could feel the wind and smell the earth just as the characters do. It is truly a novel experience as many films leave you with a feeling of watching from a third party view rather than full immersion. And this film is not even in 3D!

To some the story may seem a little confusing, especially during the first half of the movie. This may also make it feel a little slow, but stick with it. As you get into the film, the history behind the characters is revealed and the meanings of strange happenings becomes evident. You will really get pulled in about halfway through the story.

Just a heads up for the parents out there. There are a few violent scenes in the movie depicting the chaos the imbalance has caused and during the climax towards the end. Based on this and the speed of the movie and complexity of the story, we would not recommend this for younger viewers. Older children and adults are more likely to enjoy this film and appreciate the dramatic storytelling.

The DVD also includes some bonus features including a way to further explore the lands of Earthsea by selecting the Enter the Lands option or to learn more about the origins of the film through the Behind the Studio option. And if you feel up to a challenge, test your expertise by taking the Studio Ghibli Trivia Challenge!

Overall, this is a great film and a wonderful addition to your Disney and Studio Ghibli film library. We will admit that the story and the scenery is beautiful, but at first the story really did not grab us. However, we stuck it and are so glad that we did. We were rewarded with a fantastic story and an incredible movie experience which further renewed our love of Studio Ghibli projects. Make sure to check this on out on March 8, 2011!

DVD Review: Tales from Earthsea

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