Movies, TV & Music
Screen Education

Screen Education Winter 2015 (74)

Screen Education is essential reading for those with an interest in media literacy. Produced by educators, scholars and critics, the magazines content is tailored to the primary and secondary classroom, as well as some tertiary-level material, offering a unique and engaging perspective on screen education.

Australian Teachers of Media Incorporated
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4 Issues

in this issue

15 min.
the wind rises, a genius departs

This article refers to the original Japanese-language release. ‘If you’re going to retire, retire early,’ Hayao Miyazaki once said. He didn’t heed his own advice: in September, the legendary head of Japanese animation kings Studio Ghibli announced his retirement from directing feature films at the age of seventy-two. Miyazaki had taken sabbaticals before – after Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) and Princess Mononoke (1997) – but those early retirements were never going to hold. ‘I’m an animator,’ Miyazaki has long said; his chosen medium – perhaps, the medium that chose him – defines who he is as a person, how he spends his days and how he’s lived his life. His retirement at the completion of his eleventh feature film, The Wind Rises (2013), came from no desire to put…

12 min.
sisters doin' it for themselves: frozen and the evolution of the disney heroine

Since its US release in November 2013, Disney’s latest animated offering, Frozen (Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee), has met with critical acclaim and extraordinary box-office success. It won this year’s Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (for ‘Let It Go’), and despite being released less than six months ago, it has already grossed over US$1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-earning Disney-animated film of all time. At the time of printing, the film’s soundtrack has also spent eleven non-consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard charts, the most held by a soundtrack since Titanic (James Cameron, 1997). Following the success of Frozen – and Tangled (Nathan Greno & Byron Howard, 2010), Disney’s adaptation of the Rapunzel story – many are anticipating the dawn…

14 min.
strangers in the night: spirited away

This article refers to the English-dubbed Disney release. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) is a perennial text that continues to capture the imaginations of a range of viewers. Its narrative resonates with the experiences that characterise growing up, and its visuals – particularly the ambiguously grinning No-Face (Bob Bergen) – exist in the same shared pop-cultural space as Yoda or Jack Skellington; even if you have not seen the films they originate from, their memorable design and ubiquity in merchandised form are strangely familiar. The popularity of the film can be partially attributed to the scope of critical positions from which it can be viewed. It is, of course, a Japanese film and can serve as an introduction to that country’s beauty and rich traditions as well as some of the darker…

19 min.
hidden depths: a ponyo study guide

This article refers to the English-dubbed Disney release. Like the films of its distributor, Disney, Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) is beloved for its cute and colourful visuals, its sweet narrative and gently optimistic themes, and its child protagonists, who are openly designed to endear themselves to a young audience. However, this charming and child-centric animated film has deeper and richer currents running under its iridescent surface, offering us the opportunity to help young viewers explore the sophisticated and significant concepts also being addressed, such as intertextuality, environmentalism, constructions of family, and love. BEFORE WATCHING THE FILM SYNOPSIS When five-year old Sósuke (Frankie Jonas) rescues a goldfish, whom he later names ‘Ponyo’, from the ocean, he has no idea she is really the magical runaway daughter of the ocean’s self-appointed caretaker, Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), and…

11 min.
pigs might fly: applying literary analysis to porco rosso

This article refers to the original Japanese-language release. Hayao Miyazaki’s love of children’s literature is well known. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that one of the most interesting aspects of his work is a storytelling device still primarily thought of in literary terms: allegory. Many of Miyazaki’s features encourage allegorical interpretations, from his narratives of personification, in which nature appears in the guise of woodland spirits (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988) and forest gods (Princess Mononoke, 1997), through to his more recent narratives of transformation – films that seemingly offer traditional takes on fairytale tropes like evil curses (Howl’s Moving Castle, 2004) and magical creatures (Ponyo, 2008), but leave enough interpretative wriggle-room for viewers to question whether their protagonists’ transformations are indeed as straightforward as they first appear. Porco Rosso (1992), Miyazaki’s…

14 min.
princess mononoke: transgressing the binaries that bind

This article refers to the original Japanese-language release. Ever since Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) cracked the Western market, Studio Ghibli has been championed as a morally superior alternative to Disney. Adults and adolescents taking joy in children’s animation is hardly a new phenomenon, but with Ghibli there’s no stigma attached. Instead of being considered a ‘guilty pleasure’, Ghibli films, and their filmmakers, are lauded for both content and style. Along with the stunning handpainted cell work that Ghibli continues to pour time and money into instead of relying on new digital technologies, the key point of difference is that the content of the films is sophisticated. Freed from the constraints of binaries – such as good/evil and male/female – Ghibli films allow the complexities of life and the imagination to…