The internet over in Japan was lit ablaze last month by a student film. Titled “Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux” (“Girls and Guys from the Summits and the Skies”), the short is a gorgeously animated trailer for what looks like an amazing yet-to-be-made feature film. Created by Gwenn Germain, who is studying at the French art school Créapole, the animation is also a love letter to legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. You can watch it above.
“I’ve been told by a friend of mine that all the movies that I’ve made are essentially the same!” That’s what Miyazaki said to me during a roundtable for his children’s movie Ponyo. Though the stories vary from movie to movie, his world is immediately recognizable and remarkably consistent. He creates universes that are wondrous and mystical.
He has an almost shamanistic reverence for nature; rocks, trees, rivers, and oceans all seem to be alive and aware. And he populates his world with shape-shifting creatures like the ravenous masked blob No-Face in Spirited Away; the Great Forest Spirit in Princess Mononoke, which looks like it was yanked straight out of Japanese mythology; and perhaps his most delightful creation, the Cat Bus from My Neighbor Totoro, complete with headlight eyes, a Cheshire grin and a warm, womb-like interior. It was this whimsical creation that reportedly impressed The Emperor himself – Akira Kurosawa.
It’s no wonder why Japanese netizens went crazy for “Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux.” Germain’s short seems sprung from the same world as Miyazaki. The giant bugs look like something out of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The ambiguously European architecture looks like something from Kiki’s Delivery Service and those purple amorphous worms look like something from Spirited Away. Heck, Miyazaki himself even seems to be in Germain's short – that bearded old guy at the end of the movie is a spitting image of the famed animator.
Germain credits other influences aside from Miyazaki: Syd Mead, the concept artist who created those flying cars in Blade Runner and the city of the future in the upcoming Tomorrowland, and particularly the boundlessly imaginative French illustrator Moebius. Their influence might not be as obvious as Miyazaki's, however.
In any case, I am seriously looking forward to seeing a feature length version of “Celles et Ceux des Cimes et Cieux.”
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.