Night On The Galactic Railroad (Film)
Guy Lochhead, 26/02/12
1985 anime version of Kenji Miyazawa’s 1927 novel. The story follows a boy (or cat, in the film version) on a metaphysical spiritual journey through the Milky Way. The film is slow-moving and dreamlike, with the various events merging over each other as stops on the train line. Major themes are of death, happiness and growing up. This is an extraordinary film. The ambiguity and truly unsettling atmosphere – achieved with a very slow pace; lingering shots on cats running and wide, infinitely-staring cat eyes; repetition; open ends and use of blackness – really made me want to include it, but the second half begins to milk the Christian imagery that held back the first half, to the point that I felt pretty uncomfortable about watching it. The imagery is mostly visual, so I wonder how prevalent it is in the original book… Miyazawa is celebrated as a spiritual man though, and has won many prizes recognising this, so I expect there would be enough weird shit to make me feel awkward… It’s a real shame because, as I wrote above, the cinematic devices of the film are really unique and interesting. The message would still be weird though – more Christian emphasis on self-sacrifice (apparently a big theme in Miyazawa’s writing) and servitude…

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