Common Sense, our go-to resource to review all things media, just developed a new Common Sense Seal to highlight great movies for watching with the family. Not only are the films vetted by the Common Sense folks with their normal full reviews that indicate what to expect from the film, but the award category points out the important issues messaged in their choices, and a set of questions are offered for pondering en famille.
The latest film to receive this honor is a Japanese film called The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. directed by the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. The other co-founder is Hayao Miyazaki and we have loved everything he has had his hand in – including Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and, most recently, The Wind Also Rises.
Here is Common Sense’s review of the film — and if you click through to the review page, you’ll also find a plot synopsis, a sense of the quality of the film overall, and questions to discuss.
Parents need to know that The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a retelling of a 10th-century Japanese fable about a tiny, mysterious princess who sprouts from a bamboo stalk and is raised by an elderly bamboo cutter and his wife. The movie, which is available in both the original Japanese (with English subtitles) and in dubbed English, should appeal to mature elementary schoolers who are already fans of movies like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. There are a couple of scenes of violence — including the death or disappearance of a couple of characters — as well as a moment when a woman’s bare breast is shown because she’s nursing. Families who enjoy fantasies and folk tales should consider seeing this unique film together; it has serious themes and moments of heartbreak, but it also offers strong messages about what children need to thrive (love, encouragement, and the freedom to be themselves) and how striving for social status will ultimately leave you dissatisfied.
The film is in some theaters still (it was released mid-October 2014) and will be available on DVD soon. Here is the trailer: