Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Magical Goodness

I've loved Hayao Miyazaki's work for many years. His films are breathtaking, inspirational and a joy to watch. From the energy of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind to the urgency of Princess Mononoke to the child-like hope of My Neighbour Totoro, they are pure brilliance. I was first introduced to his work when Spirited Away won the Oscar for best picture. As soon as I saw it I was hooked and I promptly moved on to see the rest of his films as well as others, also wonderful, from Studio Ghibli. It was just after seeing Spirited Away though that I had heard his next film was to be called Howl's Moving Castle. I just so happened to be discussing this with a friend who is quite the reader. She responded with amazement, telling me that Howl's Moving Castle is the title of a book by Diana Wynne Jones. Surely enough this was what the movie was based on. My friend lent me the book and from that moment I was destined to be a big fan!
Both Miyazaki's film and Jones' novel have become great favorites of mine. Both, though not exactly the same (Miyazaki does take some artistic liberties), are the types of stories that draw you in and you can't wait to find out what happens next.
The great news for their fans is that these storytellers have not stopped practising their art. Miyazaki's most recent film, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, came out in Japan last summer and is due for release in the US and Canada some time this year. The trailer can be seen at
As for Diana Wynne Jones, she has written many fantasy books for many ages, from children to adults. The Castle series still remains my favorite, however...although I must confess I have not read many of her books...and yes I did say "series." The sequel to Howl's is Castle in the Air, which is a great read as well (and also a funny coincidence, since Miyazaki made a completely unrelated movie called Castle in the Sky). Castle in the Air is a great read too. But the fun doesn't end there. I recently found out that there is a third book in the series that came out last year, called House of Many Ways, which I have yet to read.

Sophie Hatter in her hat shop in
Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle

Monday, February 23, 2009

Costumes for "The Tempest"

This past Saturday was the final performance of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" by the drama group of my college, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy. I was fortunate enough to be the costume designer second year in a row (last year we did Moliere's "The Learned Ladies"). It was a blast to work on. The fantasy setting gave me a lot of room to move around, especially since the director wanted the time period to be ambiguous. That plus a plethora of magical creatures, spirits and monsters made it a designer's dream. My crew was wonderful, as were all the other departments and actors. I love collaborative art forms like theater; the way it comes together and brings everyone together is amazing. Here are some of the finished costumes. In the near future hopefully I'll get around to posting some of my designs and inspirations also.
Prospero and AntonioFerdinand and Miranda
CalibanGoddesses: Ceres, Juno, Iris
Nymphs: Wind, Mountain, Water, Star and Tree