UK newspaper The Guardian has posted online their Sept. 14th interview with accliamed director Hayao Miyazaki in time for the UK release of Howl’s Moving Castle. This is Mr. Miyazaki’s first interview in 10 years. Of interest, Miyazaki adds his own take of watching Howl’s with the original Japanese and new English dub.
Disney releases Miyazaki films in two formats: a subtitled version for the purists and a dubbed extravaganza for the popcorn crowd. Howl’s Moving Castle is no exception. It features the voice of Billy Crystal as the obstreperous fire demon and Lauren Bacall as the Witch of the Wastes. This is fine, says Miyazaki, because Bacall is “a fabulous woman” who brought something to the role that home-grown actors couldn’t. “All the Japanese female voice actors have voices that are very coquettish and wanting male attention, which was not what we wanted at all.”
In any case, he adds, who is to say that a subtitled print is any more authentic? “When you watch the subtitled version you are probably missing just as many things. There is a layer and a nuance you’re not going to get. Film crosses so many borders these days. Of course it is going to be distorted.”
And on the merchandising and editing of their work.
The Disney deal suits him, he explains, because he has stuck to his guns. His refusal to grant merchandising rights means that there is no chance of any Nausicaa happy meals or Spirited Away video games. Furthermore, Disney wields no creative control. There is a rumour that when Harvey Weinstein was charged with handling the US release of Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki sent him a samurai sword in the post. Attached to the blade was a stark message: “No cuts.”
The director chortles. “Actually, my producer did that. Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts.” He smiles. “I defeated him.”