One of the curses (or blessings) of a literary childhood is a distaste for simplicity in things like titles… and even website URLs.
Having dabbled my toes in the murky waters of 'web optimization' (oww!!) I'm well aware that other titles could have been more effective. Heck- I probably should have titled this site ‘Roon’s Pot Sales’ (or maybe not).
So why Kohaku River?
(The word 'sublime' gets thrown around casually, but its evolved through a range of very specific meanings. In almost all cases, however, it evokes something immeasurable in the natural world, even fearful... but also infused with a great, trans-rational loveliness. At it's best, I'd like to think that the sublime can be recognized in a dew drop as easily as a mountain thunderstorm... but it's a shivering, uneasy recognition, while still intoxicating).
Obviously, my ‘day job’ as a wildlife/conservation biologist is a pivotal factor here, as is my love for canoeing in cold, northerly places.
First- for anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Spirit Away’, the film teems with gratuitous beauty. It’s not ‘safe’ beauty, however. Miyazaki loves the play of light over water and grass and the gleam of moonlight on cloudscapes… but every scene hums with a fey potentiality.
The plot centers on a bathhouse where the spirits come to wash away the stench and decay of humanity. As with much of Miyazaki's work, the storyline is only tangentially linear. However, I'll mention one pivotal scene.
- An unsentimental respect for age- with its wisdom and cantankerousness intermingled
- Honor and empowerment of young women (Chihiro’s arc from sullen, spoiled child to loving, brave heroine is one of the finest things I’ve seen in cinema
- Constant revels in weirdness. I love the grunting, bouncing heads in the office of Yubaba (the sorceress-tyrant that runs the bathhouse). I love the radish spirit. I love No-face and his comical (but oh-so-poignant) subversion of the bathhouse and all of its denizens (except, of course, for Chihiro).
(Need I add- if you haven't seen it, hie thee down to the local house of DVD asap!)