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This dissertation explores what makes Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki a
surrealist film maker using Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's
Moving Castle as case studies that exemplify Surrealism and reflect Miyazaki's
conscious/unconscious by linking Sigmund Freud's and mostly Carl Jung's
theories of psychoanalysis. Firstly, surrealism will be defined and it's history will
be explained in addition to establishing that Surrealism in Japan is the same as in
the West and providing societal historical context to the movement's beginnings
in Japan as well as the history of Japanese animation. Surrealism in the West is
next to be explored as Freud's and Jung's psychoanalysis theories are applied to
surrealism and animation, it will be argued why Jung's theories are more suited
for animation. Surrealist cinema follows, looking into what makes a film surreal?
What are the film making techniques? What are the genre's limitations? Finally
the case studies and Miyazaki as a director will be examined linking his films to
his culture, religion, childhood, history and psychoanalytic theories.


The first chapter of this dissertation will explain what Surrealism is

by looking at its roots in Dadaism and how it evolved from that,
acknowledging that they are separate movements and what the
movements aims are. Next, surrealism's political resistance in Japan
is explored by looking into Japanese politics such as the 'thought
police' (Tokubetsu Kōtō Keisatsu) and the Peace Preservation Law
(Chian-ijihô) which sought to stop the movement's development by
looking at some surrealists of the time (Kansuke Yamamoto and
Shūzō Takiguchi). In addition to Surrealism's history, this chapter
also explores Japan's animation history before looking at more
modern surrealists such as Tetsuya Ishida and Yuko Shimizu.


Chapter 2 of this dissertation will firstly look at the

psychoanalysis of Surrealism, looking at Freud's theories of
psychoanalysis and examining how famous Western Surrealists
apply his theories to their artistic methodology such as Salvador
Dali, Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Rene Magritte and Wolfgang,
Paalen. The next part of the chapter introduces Carl Jung's
theories of psychoanalysis and compares it to Freud. Surrealism
in terms of films is next to be explored defining what makes a
film a work of surrealism, what are the film making techniques
and what are the genre's limitations. To conclude chapter 2 it will
be argued why Jung's theories are best to explain animation.


The final chapter explores Miyazaki as a surrealist, looking into

his film making techniques through the psychoanalytic lenses of
Jung and partially Freud which exemplify Miyzaki's surrealist
methodology. As a case study this chapter looks at three main
films, (Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and My Neighbour
Totoro) for relations to Miyazaki’s conscious/unconsciousness -
his upbringing, Japanese culture/religions/politics in addition to
looking into his filmic/animated influences (Le Roi et l'oiseau).
This part also looks at the shared motifs and themes that reoccur
across all his films and what his films reflect about him in
addition to why the worldwide appeal of his films.

Author: Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc Quotations:

Critical position: Film Critics and Freelance Authors. “The remarkable films of Studio Ghibli show, without a
Title: Studio Ghibli The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao shadow of doubt, that cinema can be art.” Pg. 13
Takahata “Miyazaki Hayao was born in the modern capital of
Publisher/publication: Kamera Books Tōkyō on 5 January 1941. These were difficult and
turbulent times for Japan; the long campaigns of World
Place of Publication: Herts
War II had left the country devastated and hungry.
Date: 2009 Following Japan’s defeat in 1945 the country was
Chapter(s): occupied by the United States … the early post-war
years were particularly harsh.” Pg. 15

The Films of Studio Ghibli “Miyazaki, grew up with his three brothers, father and
mother, the latter of a free-thinking spirit who inspired
her sons to question everything. As a result of his
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words): (80 mothers long-term illness, the family had to move
Words) around the country seeking the best medical support,
This book discusses Miyazaki’s background and childhood in the situation many commentators have linked to the
relation to his films, in addition to Japanese culture/society genesis of My Neighbour Totoro (1988).” Pg. 16
(bathing, foods and shoes in the house as a taboo) and
“Miyazaki’s father worked for his brother at Miyazaki
religion/mythology (Shintō and Buddhism). Reoccurring
themes, motifs and tones such as flying, environmentalism, Airplane, and Hayao developed a love of flying
weather, child protagonists, metamorphosis, worlds within machines. He began drawing what he saw as well as
worlds, the optimistic tones and positive messages - imagining new forms of aviation. These roots would
characters always have the chance at redemption and like to see him design designing flying machines not
growth. The book also discusses the appeal to the west which only for the animated movies but also specialist
reflects Jung’s theory of universal archetypes. modelling magazines.” Pg. 16

“Many of the films of Studio Ghibli have common “In My Neighbour Totoro, when Mei, Satsuki
themes and motifs that can make for a coherent and their father enjoy a relaxing bath together
worldview, even if the films themselves can be radically it is a sign of family harmony. Bathing is a
different in content or tone. Although the animations
traditional Japanese way of relaxing, distinct
often share these common elements and usually a
distinctive house aesthetic, they nevertheless retain the
from washing, which is performed prior to
characteristics and interests of their respective directors.” bathing, so as not to dirty the bathwater.” Pg.
Pg. 19 31
“Similarly, the fantastical world of Studio Ghibli are filled “The war in this film is politically motivated and
with flying creatures – Totoro, … and Spirited Away. What has parrallels with the US-led invasion of Iraq.
is interesting about these creatures is the way they … Miyazaki was interviewed in US magazine
interact with humans in the story, serving as a metaphor
Newsweek in June 2005 and made his views
for growing up or showing that sometimes freedom
clear: ‘Actually, your country had just started
comes at a price. Often, as with Totoro, they fly with the
human character to show them the world from a war against Iraq, and I had a great deal of rage
different perspective.” Pg. 22 about that. So I felt some hesitation about the
award [Academy Award for Spirited Away]. In
“Closely linked to environmental concerns is Shintō,
Japan’s indigenous religion, which, until the US
fact, I had just started to make Howl’s Moving
occupation in 1945, was a part of the states affairs, Castle, so the film is profoundly affected by the
directly linking and pray to the gods. Ghibli’s do not war in Iraq’.” Pg. 127
specifically refer to Shintō but its customs are enshrined
“Completing the misfit family – for Howl’s
within Japanese culture. Shintō is at heart an animistic
religion that sees gods and spirits in everything, resulting
Moving Castle is a film advocates finding your
in a respect for human harmony with the natural own family rather than relying on the one you
environment.” Pg. 27 are born into” Pg. 128

Author: James Douglas Thompson Quotation:

Critical position: Amateur Film Maker "The first thing I found compelling about
Miyazaki's process is that he never has a script for
Title: Hayao Miyazaki: What You Can Imagine
any of his original films, he just has a general idea
Publisher/publication: Youtube of what he wants to do then he starts to visualise it
At: https://www.youtube.com/watch? and he draws the entire film in storyboards,
v=8STLqW7OAtk&feature=youtu.be sometimes he doesn't even add dialogue until
well into the storyboarding process"
Date: 4 September 2016

"The fact that he is willing to tell the story simply

Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words):
with images first sort of forces him to make the
(79 Words)
story flow without dialogue, so that when dialogue
This video essay explores the decisions Miyazaki is added on top, it makes sense."
makes in order to make his films impactful through
his emotionally relatable stories, well written
characters and visual appeal of his drawings by "This man wasn't just making films to tell stories,
analysing the documentary 'The Kingdom of Dreams he was drawing the realities he wanted to
and Madness' which follows Miyzaki during the experience, whether it be a train track moving
making of his last film 'The Wind Rises', Thompson across the ocean or a castle in the sky, Miyazaki
concludes this mini video essay that Miyazaki was was imagining these stunning worlds and bringing
creating animations of the worlds he imagined which them to life through his artistry."
is why he named the video 'What can you imagine?'.

Author: Channel Criswell Quotations:

Critical position: Film Analytic "Miyazaki studies people, his comprehension
Title: Hayao Miyazaki - The Essence of Humanity of human behaviour is displayed through the
action of characters, he never reuses the same
Publisher/publication: Youtube
At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
"his characters magnify the elements of
ourselves that we recognise most and
Date: 6 October 2015 presents them to us in such a realistic manner"
"It's interesting to see a film maker's
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 philosophy permeate their film making to
words): (70 Words) such a degree as Miyazaki's have, but his
This video essay explores what makes Miyazaki
process involves capturing what he sees in
different from other film makers - his humanity. humanity so really it shouldn't come as such a
Looking into what his films say about him, he surprise that themes of his films are often
incorporates his philosophy, his culture into films, based around his social and spiritual beliefs.
how characters are portrayed each having their One theme that presents itself is animism, the
own traits no animation is ever recycled and how notion of a spiritual kind of connection within
his characters have an element of realism to all of nature although Miyazaki believes
them, something we can identify ourselves in, people to be a part of nature so they are
basing his characters on people in the real world. incorporated into this connection too."

"The story is never about the protagonist winning, "With worlds as alien and obscure as Miyazaki's
it's about the protagonist adapting and growing there are bound to be elements that are left to
to a world that isn't built around their needs. We our interpretation, but the thing is we don't
are confronted with harsh realities however they have to understand everything, Miyazaki's
allow better things may arise." principals are emotion not logic and so a lot of
"emphasise Miyazaki's human elements rather his design of the fantasy aspect isn't explained,
than fantasy ... it is important to take into account the reason for this is because an object is more
Miyazaki's attitude to film making because a lot of likely to capture our interest when we can't
this could be simply credited to the film's explain it. The creatures Miyazaki often creates
production, Miyazaki never studied screen writing are often ambiguous"
and to this day leaves a lot to feelings and
"his environments maybe disjointed at first
intuition, it's a very interesting approach to film
glance but his use of modern elements give us
something to recognize, and it's his
"Instead many scenes are planned out individually, implementation of traditional Japanese design
not as story threads but simply as methods of that gives the world a mystery and consistency.
conveying emotion. It's a technique where, if all It all comes down to empathy with people and
we saw was one scene we would understand all of reality of the world, Miyazaki offers a sense of
the emotion that was there. To achieve this, liberation to his characters and in turn to us, we
Miyazaki simply continues to draw settings that see people in a suffocating society but
evoke feelings, he is never concerned with the ultimately shows characters that have become
early stages - emotion is the key."
self reliant."

Author: Asher Isbrucker Quotation:

Critical position: Film Analytic "Through masterful animation and attention
Title: The Immersive Realism of Studio Ghibli to detail, Studio Ghibli consistently crafts
immersive unique films that strike a difficult
Publisher/publication: Youtube balance between fantasy and reality."
At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Q6y4-
"The animator must fabricate a lie that
seems so real, viewers will think the world
Date: 23 November 2016 depicted might possibly exist." - Hayao
Miyazaki, Starting Point

Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 "As Ghibli has so eloquently proven,
words): (54 words) animation is a medium not a novelty,
valuable for not only its vivid expression of
This video essay looks at the films of Studio Ghibli
fantastical worlds and magic but for
through the lens of world building to create
immersive realism within the films, what subtle communicating universal ideas and pure
things have been put in place that the audience emotions in a way that only animation can,
won't consciously acknowledge but helps to the films of Studio Ghibli circumvent their
fabricate this imaginary world, this video also expectations of what animation can be
explains why animation is an effective medium. leaving us vulnerable to their magic."

Author: Amanda Maddox Quotations:

Critical position: Assistant Curator in the Department of "Visual artists quickly embraced Surrealist ideology, an
Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum Surrealism soon emerged as an international movement that
promoted innovative poetic and artistic practices. Japan was
Title: Japan's Modern Divide The Photographs of Hiroshi among the first countries outside Europe to feel reverberations
Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto of the movement, but its relationship with Surrealism has been
Publisher/publication: Getty Publications complicated, as Surrealist art has no always bee recognised
within the canonical history of Japanese art". (Maddox, 180)
Place of Publication: California
"Critized as a movement "imported" from the West and
Date: 2013 imitated by Japanese artists" Pg 180
Chapter: "In 1925 the Japanese government began to suppress
Disobedient Spirit: Kansuke Yamamoto and his engagement freedom through the Chian-ijiho (Peace Preservation Law),
with Surrealism which targeted individuals potentially linked to communist or
leftist activities. As the Surrealist movement gained momentum
in Japan in the 1930s, the Tokko (short for Tokubetsu Kōtō
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words): (86 words) Keisatsu, known as the "Thought Police") who enforced the
Peace Preservation Law became more aggressive. The threat of
Japan's Modern Divide has a whole chapter about Surrealism in persecution or imprisonment for the so-called thought crimes
Japan which discusses how the movement spread there was so extreme that avant-garde and Surrealist artists, writers,
(through Nishiwaki teachings) and how it spread (through and intellectuals began to strip their work of any liberal,
Takiguchi's and Yamanaka's exhibition Kaigai Chogenjitsushugi potentially subversive content." Pg 180
Sakuhinten). The chapter also looks into the political and
"The common view is that Japanese poet Junzaburo Nishiwaki
societal problems it faced from the Tokko (Thought Police) who
(1894-1982) a student at Oxford University who was exposed
enforced the Peace Preservation Law during the 1930s. The
to Modernist literature and Surrealist ideology whilst he was in
main Japanese surrealist studied in this chapter is Kansuke England, brought word of Surrealism in Japan when he
Yamamoto who exemplified Surrealism in every medium and returned to teach at Keio University in the mid 1920s. The initial
captured Surrealism's spirit combining Western theories with wave of Surrealism starts there, in Nishiwaki's classes and
Japanese culture. various literary cycles in Tokyo." Pg 180

"As the Surrealist network began to disband in Europe toward the end "Takiguchi declared that "Surrealism, that is, the movement
of the 1930s, the movement made a profound impact on Japan. By of 'surrealism' which has spread from France, cannot, in its
that time Shuzo Takiguchi (1903-1979), one of Nishiwaki's students,
original form, completely match the situation in our country."
had emerged as a prominent art critic and leading advocate of
That is to say, Surrealism in Japan was specific to that nation,
Surrealism in Japan. In the 1930s Takiguchi established an epistolary
friendship with Breton, who likely inspired Takiguchi's artistic its language, and its cultural traditions, which were as
experiments with the technique of decalcomania and supported an foreign to Surrealists of Europe as "the French intellectual
exhibition of Surrealist works in Japan. In collabortaion with poet context" might have seemed to Surrealists in Japan." Pg 190
Chiru (Tiroux) Yamanaka (Japanese, 1905-1977) and with the aid of
Surrealists such as Paul Eluard (French, 1895-1952) and Roland "The effects of the war on the Surrealist movement in Japan
Penrose (English, 1900-1984), Takiguchi was responsible for were extreme, whereby artists and intellectuals experienced
organizing and bringing the Kaigai Chogenjitsushugi Sakuhinten acute persecution by the Thought Police and some,
(Exhibition of Overseas Surrealist Works) to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and including Takiguchi, were eventually imprisoned." Pg 197
Nagoya in 1937. .. the exhibition was hugely influential and
introduced many Japanese people to Surrealism for the first time." Pg "In 1947 Yamamoto established his own association, VIVI,
181 with his good friend and fellow photographer Kei'ichiro
"A Japanese translation of Breton's first Surrealist Manifesto (1924) Goto (Japanese, 1918-2004) and other artists in Nagoya, in
was published in 1929. In that manifesto Breton used the then-current order to keep the spirit of Surrealist ideology alive." Pg 199
dictionary definition of the word "Surrealism" describing it as "pure
"In 1938, he [Yamamoto] wrote, "no one can strangle the
psychic automatism," which suggests that Surrealist activity and art
spring from the unconscious. ... These definitions acted as guideposts freedom of human dreams and defence of that culture. If
for Surrealists in the West in their attempts to channel automatism and that gets strangled by the institutions of society, that means
to represent the unconscious thing using a variety of mediums, we need the courage to break the insitution." Although
including poetry, painting, sculpture, and photography. Driven by an Yamamoto was conscious to the problem, it was through
endless curiosity, Yamamoto studied all these forms of Surrealist Surrealism that he could convey that sentiment and attempt
representation." Pg 185
to incite change. At its core, according to philosopher Raoul
"Yamamoto also studied philosophy and psychology, and he read the Vaneigem, "Surrealism attempted to provoke, from the
works of Sigmund Freud, whose ideas about the unconscious, dreams, intellectual and moral point of view, a crisis of consciousness
and sexuality shaped Surrealist principals, but whose theories were
of the most general and serious kind." Yamamoto was trying
generally not widely known or assimilated in Japan." Pg 185
to wake up Japan in order to encourage it to dream." Pg 202

Author: Richard Leslie Quotation:

Critical position: Independent Art Historian and Art Critic “It is often argued that the
Title: Surrealism The Dream of Revolution introduction of photography in the
Publisher/publication: Todtri Productions Limited mid-nineteenth century created a
problem for art, since painting now
Place of Publication: New York
had to find a new role outside
Date: 1997 representation. Surrealism, though,
Chapter: The Internationalization of Surrealism turned the tables and
problematized photography by
using its very strength, it's inherent
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words): (57
words) ability to create an image we
assume is factual and objective, to
This book features many illustrations exemplifying
its advantage. Once a sense of the
surrealism in several mediums and how well suited it is
for surrealism, there is a section on why photography is a mysterious could be located within
good medium for surrealism which could be useful and through photography, it was
before introducing Japanese surrealist Kansuke the perfect medium for Surrealism
Yamamoto who uses a lot of photography in his work and no movement employed
expressing that surrealism is not just paintings. photography so extensively." Pg 86

Author: Joan Stanley-Baker Quotations:

Critical position: Emeritus Professor of Art History, "The cultural experience of the Meiji, Taishō and
Author of several books on Japanese and Chinese art Shōwa eras involved a massive ingestion of European
and American learning. Japanese students studied in
Title: Japanese Art
the West and foreigners established universities and
Publisher/publication: Thames & Hudson Ltd colleges in Japan." Pg 194
Place of Publication: London "Western oil painting was called Yōga" Pg 194
Date: 2014 "The description yūgen, 'mysterious and profound',"
Chapters: Pg 200

Chapter 7: Modern Japan (1868-1965) "Reflecting a new order of consciousness and

universality, they avoid conquest-worship and focus
Chapter 8: Japan Today (1965-) mainly on issues of global concern. Pride of place
goes to Miyazaki Hayao (b.1941), whose extraordinary
tales stress compasionate sharing rather than targeted
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words): (62
growth, as well as the Oneness of all beings, plants,
planets, and cosmic energy, ... His heroes are not
This book discusses Japanese Art from prehistoric times Supermen, but intelligent, softly spoken girls, who
through to Japan's present day. Chapter 7: Modern fearlessly tackle planetary problems bequeathed by
Japan doesn't discuss Surrealism in Japan but does previous generations. ... As Miyazaki himself says:
mention Western influence on Japan and how the West
We've reached a time when the masculine mode
spread to Japan, it also talks about the effect of World
of thinking has reached its limits. Girls or women are
War II and America's controls which leads to discussion
more flexible. This is why a female point of view better
of modern manga and anime which includes Miyazaki's
suits our present times." Pg 210

Author: Michael Richardson "If surrealism is not a style, it is equally not a fixed set of attitudes." Pg
Critical position: Widely Published Author on Surrealism
"In fact there is no such thing as a "surrealist film'. There are only films
Title: Surrealism and Cinema
made by surrealists and films that have an affinity or correspondence
Publisher/publication: Berg with surrealism, as well as those that have no affinity with surrealism"
Place of Publication: New York Pg 6

Date: 2006 "Looking outside the West, Surrealism has been a pervasive influence
on Japan from the twenties ... The director who appears to have
Chapter: engaged, with surrealist ideas most explicitly here has been Hiroshi
Introduction: Surrealist Film Theory and Practice Teshingahara, especially in The Woman of the Dunes (1964) and The
Face of Another (1966) the films he worked on with the novelist Kobo
Chapter Three: Jacques Prévert and the Poetry of the Eventual
Abe, who himself drew upon surrealism to probe questions of
identity. More recently, the animated features of Hayao Miyazaki bear
a distinct kinship with surrealism in both theme and intent." Pg
Subject/Key Points and potential use (50-100 words): (84 words)
Surrealism and Cinema's introduction discusses the intention of
"Prévert's characters can be reduced to three or four different types
surrealists when making film. In a later chapter, Richardson discusses a
but that does not mean they lack complexity. Each of them is
French surrealist, Jacques Prévert who was a poet and screenwriter,
memorable in his or her own way, but Prévert was less interested in
Prévert in 1980 collaborated with an animator named Paul Grimault to
the characters as such than in the relation that exists between them.
make a surreal animation called Le Roi et l'oiseau based on a Hans
Their simplicity or characterisation is thus deceptive." Pg 58.
Christen Anderson story which was incompleted and released three years
after Prévert's death. The animation later on would have a great influence "Prévert's world is a strangely ambivalent one in which a glance or a
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata when making their animations. moment's touch offers the possibility of profound transformation that
is often prevented by the workings of a destiny they are powerless to
act against, since human beings are trapped within a world that is
Quotation: foreign to them. The sense of conflict in Prévert's world is not really
"We also need to take into account here the question of intention. between good and evil but between recognition and non-recognition.
Surrealists are not concerned with conjuring up some magical world that "[Le Roi et l'oiseau] A brilliantly animated film which has been
can be defined as 'surreal'. Their interest is almost exclusively in enormously influential on Japanese anime, especially on the work of
exploring the conjunctions, the points of contact, between different Hayao Miyazaki, whose own sensability appears to have much in
realms of existence. Surrealism is always about departures rather than common with Prévert's, Le Roi et l'oiseau , within its fairy tale context,
arrivals." Pg 3. is perhaps the purest realisation of Prévert's worldview." Pg 59.

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Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto. California: Getty Publications.

‣ Leslie, R. (1997). Surrealism The Dream of Revolution. New York: Todtri Productions Ltd.

‣ Oddel, C and Le Blanc, M. (2009) Studio Ghibli The Films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao
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‣ Stanley-Bakerm J. (2014) Japanese Art. (Third Edition). London: Thames and Hudson.

‣ The Immersive Realism of Studio Ghibli (2016). [user-generated content online]. Creat.
Isbrucker, A. 23 November 2016 At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6Q6y4-