‘Distant spirit’ It is the only anime film that has managed to get hold of the Oscar for best animated film since the category exists. And despite the importance of these awards, the legendary director Hayao Miyazaki he refused to participate in the ceremony as a protest against the war in Iraq.
The historic Miyazaki protest
The Oscar award ceremony It usually has its moments for political messages, both in support of minorities and the most disadvantaged groups, as well as to criticize the current ruler. Rare is the year in which there is no controversy, even if this year there is criticism the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida and the support for Ukraine have ended up obscured by the soup.
There have been several moments this year to remember the invasion of Ukraine (including a written message followed by a cryptocurrency announcement that left a certain cyberpunk aftertaste to the situation), but obviously this is not the first time during the ceremony. of the Oscars it was a protest against a war. Indeed, Hayao Miyazaki already made his own personal boycott of the gala in 2003 to protest the American invasion of Iraq.
‘Distant spirit’ was released in the United States in September 2002 and quickly became a mass phenomenon, a modern classic that captured critics and the box office and earned Miyazaki his first Academy Award nomination for animation. On March 23, 2003, the film Studio Ghibli was crowned best animated film of the year, also went down in history as the only anime film to have obtained the statuette so far … But when it was the director’s turn to take the stage for his award, It turns out he was nowhere.
“They looked for Miyazaki to go up to collect the award … but the director was not present in the room,” he reported at the time. The Japan Times.
After a few initial moments of confusion, Ghibli apologized to the Academy saying that Miyazaki was too busy working on his new film. But what actually happened is that the director had directly refused to go to the United States according to his own principles, as he was very furious with the invasion of Iraq.
“I felt immense anger”Miyazaki recalled years later in his memoirs. Although initially the manufacturer Toshio Suzuki he managed to silence any controversy, but in the end Miyazaki made his own statement on the matter.
“It is a pity that he cannot wholeheartedly rejoice in this award due to the deeply sad events that are happening in the world,” said Miyazaki. “However, I would like to sincerely thank all of my friends who worked so hard to bring ‘Spirited Away’ out in the US and everyone who showed their appreciation for the film.”
war as inspiration
The director tried to stay as far away from the press as possible, with the Studio Ghibli headquarters constantly surrounded by reporters after winning the Oscar. Eventually, Suzuki organized a press conference to explain the situation again, despite Miyazaki being absent again.
“It’s just that I couldn’t bear that her smiling face was everywhere”, the producer said of Miyazaki, even though the reality was that the director had refused to make a show of it with the press. Instead he decided to focus on his next creation of him, with the Iraq war being one of the great inspirations for ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’.
Miyazaki already didn’t care how he felt outside of Japan, and even went so far as to tell a Japanese newspaper that he did. “a very conscious effort to create a film that hasn’t been very successful in America”. taking base Diana Wynne-Jones’s bookMiyazaki created an anti-war protest film that became one of the studio’s great classics.
“The world is changing enormously … Under these circumstances, you have to produce films that are consistent with the times, films that ask the right questions and give the right answers to the audience, and also give them hope,” Miyazaki said of ‘Il Howl’s Moving Castle. “As you can imagine, this is a bit of a pretentious and also a very complicated goal.”
Although Miyazaki wanted to criticize the political stance of the United States and that his film did not go well, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle ended up being a hit in the country. In fact, it earned him his next Oscar nomination in 2006, although he ultimately lost “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Vegetables”.