New on DVD today is Studio Ghibli’s “Tales From Earthsea“.

Based on Ursula LeGuin’s highly successful Earthsea book series, Tales From Earthsea marks the directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki, son of highly acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki.

Before I begin, let me start by saying that this movie is rated PG-13 and is definitely not appropriate for younger children.  Fortunately, my eight year old son (who happened to be grounded from tv) was unable to view this one with me and I was grateful after having seen it that he had missed it.  Parents, always check the ratings on the movies you buy.  Don’t just assume that because it’s animated that it’s ok for all kids.

Ok, on to the review.

The theme of the movie sets around an imbalance in nature.  One that apparently has dragons fighting each other (apparently they don’t do that) and has them showing themselves to the East near land (they don’t do that either).

The mythology here is set up for us in the beginning of the film by the character named Root (the King’s advisor).  “In ages past, dragons and men were one.  Those who lusted after wealth chose the land and the sea and became men.  Those who cherished freedom became dragons and chose wind and fire.  Since then, dragons and men have remained divided”

It’s an interesting mytho, and the fact that the worlds of dragon and man are merging is a sign of dark times.

After the unexpected murder of the King, his son, Arren (who was wandering the desert) is saved from a wolf attack by the Archmage Sparrowhawk (voiced by Timothy Dalton).  The two travel on together to the next town (called Hort Town) which becomes the central location for most of the rest of the movie.  Here, Arren saves a young girl named Therru from being captured by slave traders.  Later, Arren is captured by the very same slave traders where he is later rescued once more by Sparrowhawk.  The two go on to seek shelter for the night at the farmhouse of Tenar (voiced by Mariska Hargitay), an old friend of Sparrowhawk’s.  We later come to find that Therru also lives with Tenar and is kind of like Therru’s surrogate mother.

Sparrowhawk leaves to head back to Hort Town when he hears about Lord Cob (voiced by Willem Dafoe).  Cob is more or less the ruler of Hort Town and is the only wizard known to still have powers, while the power of other wizards (including Sparrowhawk) seems to be fading.

Well, that pretty much sets the tone for the impending battle that’s about to happen.  Now that I’ve got your interest, you’re going to have to go out and pick up a copy of Tales from Earthsea to see how this pans out.

Bonus Features:

The World of Ghibli including:

Behind the Studio
Enter The Lands
Studio Ghibli Trivia Challenge