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Ursula K. Le Guin on Gedo Senki

posted on by Christopher Macdonald
Le Guin not entirely satisfied with Ghibli adaptation

On August 6, Studio Ghibli held a special preview screening of Gedo Senki for Ursula K. Le Guin, creator of the Earthsea series, on which Gedo Senki is based. The screening was held in a theater near LeGuin's home in England Oregon. Le Guin and her son, along with 70 members of her family and friends.

Goro Miyazaki said a few words before the screening, then retired to a nearby cafe instead of watching it with them. He writes in his diary, "While the film played, I was beside myself with nervousness." Following the screening Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki received a generous applause from the audience members, but it was not until later in the evening that he went to ask Le Guin for her impressions of the movie.

Miyazaki writes,

She answered briefly, saying: “It is not my book. It is your film. It is a good film.”

I felt as if there was more that she wanted to say, but her warm smile conveyed more than what words could have.

I accepted those words gratefully, appreciating all the meanings they conveyed.

Today, Le Guin posted her own thoughts regarding the movie on her website. A brief excerpt follows:

Mr Goro Miyazaki asked me just as I was leaving, "Did you like the movie?" It was not an easy question to answer, under the circumstances. I said: "Yes. It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie."

Much of it was beautiful. Many corners were cut, however, in the animation of this quickly made film. It does not have the delicate accuracy of "Totoro" or the powerful and splendid richness of detail of "Spirited Away." The imagery is effective but often conventional.

Much of it was exciting. The excitement was maintained by violence, to a degree that I find deeply untrue to the spirit of the books.

Much of it was, I thought, incoherent. This may be because I kept trying to find and follow the story of my books while watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story, but with entirely different temperaments, histories, and destinies.

Of course a movie shouldn't try to follow a novel exactly — they're different arts, very different forms of narrative.

Le Guin's full comments regarding the movie, and some background about how the movie came to be, can be read here. A translated version of Miyazaki's entire diary entry can be read here.

Thanks to Ghibli World for informing us about Le Guin's comments.

Errata: Previously we stated that Ms. Le Guin lived in England, this is incorrect, she lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.

This article has a follow-up: Errata: Ursula K. Le Guin (2006-08-15 10:34)
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