Gake no ue no Ponyo

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

“Strikes a deep chord of universality... a work of great fantasy and charm that will delight children ages three to 100.” — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
Year: 2008
Country: Japan
Running time: 101 mins

Screenplay: Miyazaki Hayao
Producer: Suzuki Toshio
Editor: Seyama Takeshi
Music: Joe Hisaishi
In Japanese with English subtitles
G cert

Voices: Nara Yuria (Ponyo), Doi Hiroki (Sosuke), Tokoro Joji (Fujimoto), Yamaguchi Tomoko (Lisa), Amami Yuki (Grandmammare), Nagashima Kazushige (Koichi)

Festivals: Venice 2008

What better film to fill 100 minutes of your life than the latest masterpiece of for-all-ages wonderment, from Japanese animation genius Miyazaki Hayao? Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Little Mermaid, this is the story of Ponyo, a young and eager goldfish, on a quest to become human and befriend a young boy named Sosuke. Ponyo's formidable magical powers are as much of a surprise to her as they are to us. Watching this open-hearted little sprite race across the waves towards her friend, without realising for a second that she's unleashed a tsunami, is so thrilling and funny and tragically innocent all at the same time that it's intoxicating. How many movies for children deliver magic to cherish for a lifetime? — BG

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is Miyazaki's simplest film in years. Not simpleminded, but emancipated from the tortuous plotting of Howl's Moving Castle and buoyed by the lithest story idea... His mermaid is a ball of russet-gold mischief with a nearly-human face. Hardly more than a pair of popping eyes and doodle mouth, that face is limitlessly expressive. So is that of Sosuke, the 5-year-old boy living on a cliff with his mum, who adopts Ponyo when she leaps from a turbulent sea... Somewhere in the billows of the plot, Ponyo becomes Sosuke's chum and co-lead... Not for her the Lolita curves of Disney's little mermaid. She remains a demented sprog, a little frightening along with the lovability. Deservedly, she and her film have been a smash in Japan, beating off such puny contenders as The Dark Knight.” — Harlan Kennedy, americancinemapapers.com

Read The Lumiere Reader's recent review of Ponyo here.