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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Whisper Of The Heart - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!



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#1 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 06 2006 - 08:36 AM


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#2 of 31 OFFLINE   Brendon

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Posted March 06 2006 - 09:33 AM

David,

Great review, as ever. I'm tempted to pick up the R1 disc for the 5.1DD Japanese track. My current Region 3 IVL version of the film only has a 2.0 DD Japanese track (from what I remember, Whisper of the Heart was the first Ghibli production with a 5.1 soundtrack.)

If you've not seen it already, may I recommend Ghibli's Only Yesterday ? Completely grounded in reality, it forsakes even the brief fantasy sequence that Whisper allows itself. The screenplay for Only Yesterday could be taken and filmed entirely as live action as a character study - Ghibli has simply provided the most realistic and lush animation instead of live actors. In every other respect it is a compelling and thoughtful character drama. Quite exquisite!

Only Yesterday IMDB link

Looking forward on your Totoro review too; my favourite SG/Miyazaki film of all, and serious contender for both my wife & I's favourite film of all time.

#3 of 31 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 06 2006 - 09:36 AM

Nice review....Except that you never talked about what the film was actually ABOUT. Posted Image

The story is basically about being a teenager, and trying to figure out what comes next in life. It is also about young love, and the questions that get asked about it.

Shizuku, nearing the time of her HS entrance exams, becomes interested in a boy who has checked out the same books she has been reading over the summer. Through her search, she finds love and questions her future path, under the expectations of her family. Oh, and the song "Country Roads" is a signifigant presence in this movie.

As DaVid says, there isn't much fantastic content in the film, but it is full of interesting characters. Just Shizuku's family alone it worth the price of admission.

Also, for those who have seen "The Cat Returns" will find some familiar characters. One could say "The Cat Returns" is out of the fertile imagination of Shizuku.

I very much recommend the film.

Jason

#4 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 06 2006 - 09:38 AM

Great recommendation for a new film...I'm certain given how much I enjoyed Whisper that "Only Yesterday" would belong in my collection.

Totoro review coming up ASAP! Go ahead and pre-order if there are any doubts if you can get a discount before street date...



Hey Jason,


That's on-purpose. Most other reviews basically do a plot exposition. To me, that lessens the impact of the film as I like to be surprised when I watch a movie and not have an idea of how the story is supposed to unfold. Also, I know that readers can get a story synopsis via other channels...so what I really want to focus on in my "movie" review section are the issues that underly the story...the deeper aspects of themes and/or qualities in the production that would draw me as a viewer to a particular film.

In any case...thanks for giving a great summary of the story to readers who might have been wondering!

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-dave
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#5 of 31 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 06 2006 - 09:40 AM

The only problem with that is, he's going to have to import it, unless TCM decides to show it again in the future. That was the only film they showed that did not have an english dub, which tells me that it isn't anywhere close to being released. Also, since most of the Ghibli stuff is out now, we may need to wait until "Tales From Earthsea" comes out on DVD in a couple of years. It still surprises me that "My Neighbors The Yamatas" got a release before "Only Yesterday"... Jason

#6 of 31 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted March 06 2006 - 05:02 PM

great review as usual david. someone needs to update the main forum page to add these latest reviews of the ghibli movies.
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#7 of 31 OFFLINE   Brendon

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Posted March 06 2006 - 08:29 PM

Jason, Oops! Gomen nasai! Yes indeed...Only Yesterday has only been released region 2 Japan and region 3 (Hong Kong & Taiwan). I've also presumed my own preference of Japanese audio/English subs as well, as you rightly point out that there is no English dub to date. If people have multi-region playback capabilities, it's well worth importing. It is curious that Yamadas has been put out before many of the other Ghibli films, as I always felt that it was VERY Japanese. So many Japanese social conventions are involved in the film but never overtly explained, that I suspected Yamadas wouldn't play well to general audiences. Still, the North American and European markets got The Cat Returns before Whisper, so what do I know! Lastly, another Japanese only Ghibli release (R2 Japan); arigatou Lasseter-san. This is a Ghibli produced documentary covering John Lasseter's promotional activities in North American for the US release of Spirited Away. Outside of the darkest corners of Pixars DVD releases, this is John Lasseter talking candidly and in depth with Hayao Miyazaki about animation and film. Fascinating stuff! I'll stop hijacking David's thread now and go and order myself the R1 Whisper.

#8 of 31 OFFLINE   RafaelB

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Posted March 07 2006 - 01:46 AM

Whisper is one of the *Best* Ghibli films IMO. I'm so glad it's received DaViD's highly recommended rating. Posted Image

While Totoro & Spirited Away hold a place as my favorites this one is easily lumped right in there at the top.

This was one of the titles I imported from Japan (along with Porco Rosso, Cat Returns & Totoro) years ago, thinking that it was one of the least 'translatable' to US audiences- in terms that it's not "fantiastical" and/or "full of whimsy"- and now they've all been released here. My wallet aches... :b

BTW, I still thankfully have Only Yesterday from the TCM airing. The lack of a dub really signified that it's not coming out in R1 yet, so I'm glad I kept it on the DVR.

Rafael.

#9 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 07 2006 - 01:56 AM

Rafael,

thanks for sharing!

Shameless invite: I'd love to come over and enjoy Only Yesterday on your DVR box. Just say when!

And naturally the invitation to compare/contrast your R2 dvds with these new R1 releases is open...that would be a GREAT asset to the reviews and my OPPO player is region-free.

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#10 of 31 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 07 2006 - 03:31 AM

Well, Cat is the newer film, so it isn't THAT surprising. Course, I don't think that was when "The Cat Returns" was originally going to be released, since I remember that Totoro was originally penciled in for the last wave. In any case, it doesn't really matter that it was released before Whisper, because the connection isn't that strong between the films. Jason

#11 of 31 OFFLINE   Brendon

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Posted March 07 2006 - 03:42 AM

True; I guess I just naturally think of TCR as being a sequel, however tenuous, to WotH. David/Rafael, If you go through with David's "shameless request", could you post your comparison of the different region discs in on of the Ghibli review threads ? I'd also love to read David's take on Only Yesterday too; it'll give me something to tide me over until the Little Mermaid: Platinum review in October! Enjoy! Brendon

#12 of 31 OFFLINE   Steve Y

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Posted March 07 2006 - 10:37 AM

Excellent review, David. My opinion does respectfully differ from yours regarding the "true" emotional impact of original language tracks (I place no quotations around original Posted Image ). But I also realize that these films would not be enjoyed by a segment of the population if no choice had been given, so providing both options is the best possible resolution.

I saw Whisper of the Heart for the first time about three years ago and was blown away. It helped that I had no idea where the story was going to go next. Like Howl's Moving Castle, it works best when you try to disengage any preconceived notions about what certain stories are "supposed" to do... it's a very naturalistic tale which moves in odd, unexpected directions, much like "real life".

See this film before you see "The Cat Returns", if possible.

I've been impressed by Disney's handling of the Ghibli films. I'm glad some of these lesser-known gems are finally getting respectable DVD releases.

#13 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 07 2006 - 11:28 AM

Steve, wonderful comments. Especially about the way that Whisper moves "like real life" in unexpected directions...no "plot forumla" anywhere in sight! I added your comments to my main review.
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#14 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 10 2006 - 02:20 AM

Subtitle Update (March 10):

It appears to my eyes and ears that the English Subtitles on this new R1 release reflect the Enlgish-Translation-Audio track and are not "literal" subtitles for the Japanese-translation.

Meaning that the English audio and subtitle text basically match each other.
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#15 of 31 OFFLINE   Brent Hutto

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Posted March 10 2006 - 05:27 AM

Well, that basically stinks. We looked at a few scenes in Howl's Moving Castle last night and played the English track with the subtitles on. The English dialog was frequently a rather loose paraphrase of the original meaning. In other cases, the English dialog was obviously intended to define the character differently than in the original (cf. Sophie being depicted as fearful instead of angry in her early encounter with the two soldiers). I guess Whisper just moved a few notches down our "can't wait to see" list. Pity. Oh. Nevermind! Glad we got that cleared up.

#16 of 31 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted March 10 2006 - 08:37 AM

I'd wait a little bit on that judgement. There are some in the other threads suspecting that DaVid looked at the CC track (which I know is on the other discs.) I'll look at my copy over the weekend. Jason

#17 of 31 OFFLINE   Brent Hutto

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Posted March 10 2006 - 08:42 AM

Jason, In fact DaViD did catch the CC dubtitles by mistake.

#18 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 10 2006 - 08:47 AM

Yeah...I'll double check all 3 titles tonight taking care to distinguish between the CC and subtitle track.

With Disney, usually *all* they offer in English is the CC track...so I didn't even think that there would be a separate "real" subtitle track to check for!

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#19 of 31 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted March 17 2006 - 11:59 PM

I just saw this and was thoroughly delighted and charmed throughout, it's my final Ghibli film, as I've seen all the others, and I'm glad this was the last one, because it is so thoroughly wonderful and perfect. I did many comparisons throughout the film of the English and Japanese track, and unlike Totoro, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Porco Rosso, Howl's Moving Castle, or Spirited Away I would NOT listen to this dub. Marvelous as the animation is, I just feel the main girl's voice is horribly miscast in expression, tone and softness of the voice. Uggh. Most of the other voices in the dub were acceptable, but David Gallagher as Seiji just felt horribly flat compared to the rich textures and tonalities to the quiet voice in the Japanese dub--the difference between acting and just saying the words, in my opinion, is never clearer. Compare to the actress dubbing the mother (or the actor dubbing the grandfather) who gives an utterly terrific performance, a shame the same caliber was not held for all the characters. The other big reason I vastly prefer the Japanese track is the prominance of the song "Country roads (Take me Home)", which is adapted, mocked, toyed with and then rewritten for better/clearer/more poetic expression in Japanese. I just felt these scenes did not flow as well in English because they don't make as much story sense. I'd feel if I were watching this in English I'd need to explain the Japanese setting and why it is they're not singing the song directly, and why they're changing it. Yet another reason to watch this in Japanese (for me of course) is that there are so many shots of kanji and phonetic Japanese writing (can't remember the name offhand) that it would be offputting to suddenly have subtitles translating them appear in an English language version. I feel it'd throw me out of the movie, but I would still want to know what was written. Lastly, I just feel that the dub track didn't capture the nuance and tone of the Japanese original as accurately as the subtitles did, this is something I felt Howl and Porco Rosso did a lot better, and Totoro did okay (completely because of the interaction of the Fanning sisters). So much of tones of animation and the vocal performances flowed together that you could practically interpret the movie without translation, often in the dub I felt less integration of the two and more friction. A fantastic film, but in this case, I'll always watch the OSL. And man that transfer was INCREDIBLE! Adam ps all these unqualified recommendations for Only Yesterday is sort of like handing someone a loaded shotgun and not telling them there's already one in the chamber. It's a great, powerful film, but man did I find it depressing, like Sansho Dayu (Mizoguchi film) it's a 'that's life' Japanese film. Meaning its quiet and deliberate and a general downer--it'd be the perfect film to license to Criterion.
 

#20 of 31 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted March 18 2006 - 01:48 AM

Adam,

what an oustanding post. Thanks for sharing your in-depth insights into the English/Japanese language options.

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