Director: Hayao Miyazaki. Japan 1986. 125 mins.
The very first feature from Studio Ghibli, this action masterpiece gives the Indiana Jones franchise a run for its money.
From the opening sequence, in which a young girl, Sheeta, floats down from the sky into the arms of apprentice miner Pazu, the film glows with adventure and magic, and we are soon off on a wild ride through the fantastical that grips and amazes.
Miyazaki’s career obsession with flight is everywhere, with airships, biplanes, gliders, all manner of battle craft, and even a flying island – Laputa, Castle in the Sky. Each is drawn with loving precision, as though da Vinci’s flying machines took wing above the invented worlds of Jules Verne, but it’s the imagination of the film which soars most spectacularly - sky pirates compete with government agents to chase missing royalty and the stuff of legend; two orphans meet, save the world and fall in love; a robot dies to save a princess, an old man talks to rocks, and an ecological message about balancing the powers of technology with respect for the earth is subtly delivered.
Cheer red-headed Captain Dola and her crew of hapless male offspring one minute and yearn for the lost innocence of the Laputan civilisation the next: this has more life than many a live-action movie, a heart-stopping, breath-taking film.