|Tales from Earthsea|
|Directed by||Gorō Miyazaki|
|Produced by||Toshio Suzuki
|Written by||Ursula K. Le Guin (novel)
|Music by||Tamiya Terashima|
|Distributed by||Studio Ghibli (Japan)
Intercontinental Video Limited (Hong Kong)
Optimum Releasing (United Kingdom)
Madman Entertainment (Australia)
Touchstone Pictures (USA)
|Release date(s)||July 29, 2006 (Japan)
October 26, 2006 (Hong Kong)
|Running time||116 minutes|
The film is loosely based on a combination of plots and characters from the first, third, and fourth books of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu.
A war galley is caught in a storm at sea. The ship's weatherworker is distressed to realize that he has lost the power to control the wind and waves, but is even more disturbed when he observes two dragons fighting above the clouds, one of which is eventually killed.
Shortly thereafter the King, already troubled by tales of drought and pestilence in the land, receives news both of the strange omen at sea and of the disappearance of his son, Prince Arren. The King's wizard tells the tale of how dragons and men were once one, until dragons chose freedom, and men chose possessions, and of his fears of how the land's plight is due to a weakening of the "balance". The King has little time to ponder on this before he is set upon and killed in a dark corridor by a young lad, who turns out to be his son Arren. The prince steals his father's sword and flees the palace.
The action now moves to a desert where Arren is pursued by wolves, and rescued by a wizard who turns out to be Sparrowhawk the Archmage. Arren accompanies Sparrowhawk and travels to the city of Hortown. Arren goes to explore the town alone, suddenly becoming scared as if something is following him. As Arren runs away, he sees a young girl, Therru, fleeing from slave hunters from whom he then saves her.
Later in the evening Arren is captured by the slave hunter but loses his sword as the hunter believes it to be worthless junk. Arren is rescued by Sparrowhawk from the slavers, and they travel to a farm where Therru is looked after by a woman, Tenar, whom Sparrowhawk knows.
The head slaver ("Hare") reports back into a castle to Lord Cob, and almost pays with his life for the loss, until he tells Cob that Sparrowhawk freed the slaves. Lord Cob orders him to bring Sparrowhawk to the castle. Sparrowhawk at the farm reveals that he is investigating the cause of the Balance being upset and leaves for Hortown, in which he discovers the sword that Arren had is in a merchant shop. Sparrowhawk is then encountered by Hare, but he transforms his face to disguise himself. When the slave hunter leaves, he buys the sword.
Arren, at the retreat, reveals to Therru that he killed his father and that he is scared of the unknown presence following him. Later he leaves in secret. Tenar is captured by the slave hunter as a bait to lure Sparrowhawk into the castle and leaves Therru behind tied to a post as a messenger. Arren is again pursued by the unknown presence and runs away, falling into a lake. Lord Cob who sees this, saves him and brings him to the castle, where he manipulates him, saying that Sparrowhawk wants to use Arren to discover the secret of eternal life. Cob persuades Arren to reveal his true name, Lebannen, in order to control him. Sparrowhawk, on the way back to the farm, encounters Therru and gives her the sword, telling her to stay and give it to Arren if he returns. He goes to the castle to save Tenar but instead finds Arren, who tries to kill him, but fails. Sparrowhawk tells Arren that death is natural and that no one can live forever, before being captured as his power is weakened within the stronghold of Cob's castle.
Therru sees a copy of Arren and follows him to the castle, where he reveals he is the light of Arren. He tells Therru his true name, and says that while he cannot go into the castle, he will be with her at all moments. Inside the castle, Therru finds Arren and says his true name, breaking Cob's control over him. She also tells him her true name, Tehanu. Both go to rescue Sparrowhawk and Tenar from Lord Cob who is about to throw them off a high tower. The sword that Arren possesses unsheaths, revealing that this is due to its magical nature, and he cuts off Lord Cob's hand, which flies away still holding his staff, rendering him unable to use magic. Cob becomes old due to the loss of the magic cast on himself. Cob captures Therru and flees to the highest tower on the castle, with Arren in hot pursuit. Cornered, Cob strangles Therru to death. However, she does not die, and instead becomes a dragon, thus killing Cob and rescuing Arren from the collapsing tower that Cob destroyed to prevent Arren advancing.
Therru and Arren land in a field, and Therru returns to human form. Arren says he will go back home to face his crime, but will come back to see Therru in the future.
This feature film from Studio Ghibli is the first anime film adaptation of any part of the Earthsea series. In the past, numerous directors have attempted to adapt the Earthsea cycle for film only to be refused by the author herself. Hayao Miyazaki had desired to create an anime version of the cycle, before he made Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In 2003, after winning an Oscar for his film Spirited Away, he received approval but was busy directing Howl's Moving Castle. On behalf of Studio Ghibli, his son Gorō Miyazaki took charge of this film adaptation.
The voice cast for the English-dubbed version includes:
Additional voices by Jeff Bennett, Susan Blakeslee, Kathryn Cressida, Bill Farmer, Pat Fraley, Jessica Gee, Brian George, Grant George, Jess Harnell, Steve Kramer, David Lodge, Tress MacNeille, Liam O'Brien, Tara Platt, Kevin Michael Richardson, Mark Silverman, Terrence Stone, Karen Strassman, and Russi Taylor.
Studio Ghibli released the First Trailer and Second Trailer on their official web site.
The Earthsea soundtrack was overseen by Tamiya Terashima and was released by Tokuma Japan Communications and Studio Ghibli Records as a multichannel hybrid SACD-CD on 12 July 2006. Its release code is TKGA-503 and ASIN is B000FNNOTG. Carlos Núñez was a key collaborator, contributing his ocarina, whistle and Galician gaita (bagpipe) to 11 out of 22 tracks. Newcomer Aoi Teshima sang in 2 of the tracks. A followup album, "Melodies from Ged Senki", was released in 17 January 2007 and included unreleased Ged Senki OST tracks as well as new tunes by Núñez. Its release code is SICP-1151 and its ASIN is B000HT1ZLW.
The film reached No.1 at the Japanese Box Office on its opening week with a gross of over 900 million yen, or approximately 7.7 million USD, pushing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest to second place and became the number one movie in the country for five weeks, until it was pushed out of the top spot when X-Men: The Last Stand was released. The movie went on to be the #4 top grossing movie for the year in Japan.
Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of the Earthsea Series, gave a mixed response to the film in her review on her website. Le Guin commended the visual animation in the film but complained that the plot and the content had been changed drastically. She also praised certain depictions of nature in the film, but felt that the production values of the film were not as high as previous works directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and that the film's excitement was focused too much around scenes of violence. Her initial response to Goro Miyazaki was "It is not my book. It is your movie. It is a good movie". However, she was unhappy that the comment was disclosed on the movie's public blog.
Le Guin's mixed opinion of the film is indicative of the overall reception of the film, particularly in Japan. In Japan, the film found both strong proponents and detractors. Many of the opinions can best be summed up in a response to Le Guin's comments on her website, that the weak points of the film were the result of "when too much responsibility was shouldered by someone not equipped for it".
The critical reaction in Japan was mixed and the movie at year's end in Japan was awarded "Worst Movie" in Bunshun's Raspberry Awards, which presided over by a panel of 32 movie critics. Goro Miyazaki also won the "Worst Director" award.
Tales from Earthsea will be released in theatres on July 30, 2010 in North America.
The film was released in selected UK cinemas on August 3, 2007, in both subtitled and English dubbed versions. The film was not released as widely as previous Ghibli movies, playing to 23 venues across the nation and making an unremarkable £23,300. Reviews were generally mixed. Radio Times suggested that it "lacks the technical sheen and warm sentimentality of some of Ghibli's earlier films"., while the Daily Mirror called it "ploddy, excruciatingly slow" and not in the same league as the work of Hayao Miyazaki. However Empire magazine said it was "well worth watching" whilst The Guardian called it "An engaging piece of work" DVD distributor Optimum Releasing released an English dubbed and subtitled, region 2 DVD for the UK market on January 28, 2008.. To mark the release, HMV ran frequent sponsor credits for the DVD, as well as a prize competition, on the AnimeCentral channel.
In Australia, Tales from Earthsea premiered in Brisbane on April 15, 2007. The film began a single print tour of major cities on April 25, 2007 and ended up playing at locations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth over the following months. It was notable that unlike previous Studio Ghibli releases, only a subtitled version was seen in cinemas. A 2 disc DVD was released on September 12, 2007 by Madman Entertainment, this time featuring both the English and Japanese versions.
In Spain, Tales from Earthsea (Cuentos de Terramar) premiered only in Madrid and Barcelona in 2 small theatres on December 28, 2007, only in Japanese version with subtitles (An odd Theatrical release compared to previous Ghibli movies). A Single DVD and a Special 2 disc DVD were released on March 12, 2008 by Aurum, this time with Spanish track included.
A manga adaption of the film has been published in Japan.