Hayao Miyazaki has directed only eight feature-length films in his lifetime, all of them animated and all of them featuring hundreds of thousands of his own key drawings. Almost none of them [as of 2002] have been released properly for American audiences. Imagine a director at least as important and with as big an oeuvre as, say, Stanley Kubrick, who has never been exhibited properly to English-speaking viewers (perhaps Jean-Pierre Melville, for a better parallel?), and you have a good idea of what is being missed by a whole generation of moviegoers.
All of Miyazaki's films are gorgeous to look at, but they are also smart and joyous, with a sly intelligence that appeals as much to adults as children. The last of his films, Princess Mononoke, has been widely acclaimed as the best animated film ever made, and it is not difficult to make a case for that. It told a deep and compelling story with fiercely beautiful visuals, and became the all-time box office champion in Japan. Approaching sixty, he stated publicly that he no longer had the stamina to do all the drawings required to direct a feature-length film, but he apparently had one more masterpiece in him. If Miyazaki intended it a way of retiring gracefully from directing, he found the best possible finale. Read more