When Pazu rescues Sheeta, a girl who falls from the sky, he suddenly finds himself on the run from government agents and pirates. All of them want the jewel that hangs around Sheeta’s neck, but what mysterious power does it hold?
Castle in the Sky stuns with its gorgeous visuals, its imaginative landscapes, and its fantastical worlds. The story of a young boy from a mining town and a mysterious floating girl, it combines a sympathetic look at the working classes and those connected to the land, along with an understanding of the need for humans to fly. But even as the film revels in the possibilities of exploration and the wonders of technology, it remains grounded in its characters. Pazu and Sheeta’s bravery and devotion stand at the heart of this story, ensuring that it is not merely visually beautiful but also a thoughtful look at the costs of doing the right thing.
The film begins with mystery and excitement as viewers find themselves witnesses to a pirate raid of an air ship. A man in a suit seems to guard a girl, but the girl fears him and tries to escape. Who she is, why she is under protection, and why a group of pirates has attacked will remain unclear for some time. The film moves to Pazu, a cheerful and hardworking orphan boy who cannot be fazed even by girls falling from the sky.
This mixture of the serious with the everyday gives the film its special charm. Destruction occurs, lives are lost, and injuries sustained, but the characters travel on. When life hands you the opportunity to stop a group of villains, you stop them. No questions asked. And you’ll want to be sure to bring your workday lunch with you as you go on the run. No use evading the military on an empty stomach.
This attitude of “everything is normal” helps make the film far less frightening than it might otherwise be. It also helps that the pirates are fierce but ultimately comedic. In Miyazaki’s world, there is often hardship, but the majority of people are kind and want to give you a hand, even if you’re a complete stranger. It’s a beautiful vision, one that enchants me every time I watch a Studio Ghibli film. Who doesn’t want to live in such a wonderful world?
Castle in the Sky is somewhat longer than other Studio Ghibli films, but it’s well worth the watch. Beautiful, heartfelt, and just a little humorous, it’s a film that makes you feel better after you’ve watched it.