The Boy and the Heron

The Boy and the Heron ★★★★½

No wonder you reek of death.” 

Miyazaki at his most fluid, visually and narratively. Each moment an event that is happening in three-fold: something our past selves dream of, something our present selves experience, and something our future selves look back on in fondness or in anguish. Time as a ripple, liquid in state. Something that bleeds into itself, slips through our fingers, takes the shape of what we place it in and then dissolves the moment whatever flimsy physical confine shatters.

The Boy and the Heron is never static, a forever swirling figment of Miyazaki’s inner workings. Where his films almost always visualize the literal stepping through the doorway between the living and the spiritual, I don’t think we’ve ever seen these two spaces so confrontational, so at odds with each other. The spiritual bursts into the world of the living with such abruptness, it’s hard to fully grasp how much is reality and how much is a dream, a memory, a wish, a nightmare. The living invades the spiritual so firmly, you can feel the very grate of it, like trying to shove a circle through a square hole, something possible but requiring a great deal of force. 

The final assertion that forgetting is not only inevitable, but key, feels like one of Miyazaki’s most urgent messages to the viewer. We will forget the details, the colors, the story, but how these things made us feel will live on, something secret and primal locked in the deepest corners of our hearts and minds. These moments of sadness, joy, horror, astonishment, magic live on in our very breaths, they dance in our laughter, they shimmer in our tears. Forgotten but not gone. We are here and we are elsewhere, existing in other places in time, staring down the corridor of many doors.

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