The Story of Yanagawa’s Canals (Isao Takahata, 1987)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Story of Yanagawa’s Canals.

criterion logoA special project originally conceived as an animated feature, director Isao Takahata and producer Hayao Miyazaki were so struck by Yanagawa’s 290 miles of waterways that they created The Story of Yanagawa’s Canals, a tribute to this Venice of the East and Studio Ghibli’s sole live-action feature film.  Mixing documentary forms, Takahata traces the history of the canals from a 16th century irrigation and drainage system to a polluted eyesore in the 1970s to a reclaimed tourist attraction and cultural centerpiece to the local community.  The result is an extraordinary portrait in keeping with the themes of Miyazaki’s famed Studio Ghibli and its animated features, exploring the uneasy coexistence between man and the natural environment against the backdrop of ongoing modernization.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer supervised by director Isao Takahata, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Interview with Takahata by Norio Akasaka
  • “Grass: Cultivating a Sense of Community,” a 22-minute uncut final chapter
  • Storyboards
  • Trailer
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholars Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc

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