The Boy And The Heron Is So Personal, Miyazaki Changed The Story When Tragedy Struck

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Written By Sedoso Feb

It’s not like Miyazaki hasn’t infused his movies with aspects of his real life before. Many of his female characters were in part inspired by his late mother, and he made “The Wind Rises” as a tribute to his father’s work. But seeing “The Boy and The Heron” not only as a goodbye letter to the world in case he doesn’t make it to the next film but as a tribute to the partnership that gave him a career, is rather special. 

What makes the film resonate even more, however, is the final moments of the film. Miyazaki does something similar to “The Fabelmans,” where Spielberg uses the film to kind of reconcile with his parents after decades of using films to reckon with his feelings towards them. Here, Miyazaki reflects both on his career and the people who helped build it. When we finally meet Mahito’s great uncle, he offers Mahito to take over his role as a wizard in charge of this fantasy world. It is a chance to escape the pain and grief of the real world, but Mahito refuses. 

Instead, he goes back to the real world to face his trauma and live with it. For producer Suzuki, this ended up being the most surprising part of the film. “Miyazaki was someone who followed the path of Takahata for so many years, and I thought it was a huge thing for him [to follow a different path].” 

Looking back, it doesn’t seem like Mahito’s decision necessarily reflects a desire or a pondering of what if Miyazaki hadn’t followed Takahata. Instead, it seems like a farewell, an acknowledgment that Takahata now only lives in the fantastical worlds that Miyazaki dreams up. As long as he keeps doing so, his friend continues to live on.

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