Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Newest Articles
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
  Little Norse Prince Prince of the SunBuy this film here.
Year: 1968
Director: Isao Takahata
Stars: Hisako Okata, Etsuko Ichihara, Mikijiro Hira, Asako Akazawa, Eijirou Touno, Hisashi Yokomori, Junko Hori, Masaki Tsuzuka, Masao Mishima, Noriko Ohara, Tadashi Yokouchi, Tokuko Sugiyama, Yasushi Nagata, Yoko Mizugaki, Yukari Asai, Yuriko Abe
Genre: Musical, Drama, Animated, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: A breakthrough movie for future Studio Ghibli co-founders, director Isao Takahata and writer/character designer/animation director Hayao Miyazaki, who probably made the tea too. Little Norse Prince boasts a higher cel count than any other anime made at Toei in the Sixties, which is apparent right from the first dynamic scene where boy hero Horus (voiced by Hisako Okata) leaps and whirls his axe, fighting off a pack of hungry wolves. The battle rouses towering stone giant Moog (Tadashi Yokouchi), whose gratitude Horus earns by removing the Sword of the Sun wedged inside his shoulder. The magic sword proves handy when Horus’ dying father (Hisashi Yokomori) sends him and his cuddly bear sidekick Coro (Yukari Asai) back to the fishing village they once fled after the demon king Grunwald (Mikijiro Hara) attacked.

Along their way, the scheming Grunwald tries to lure the boy over to the dark side, but Horus escapes and reaches the village in time to slay a marauding monster fish. His heroism earns the friendship of bereaved youngster Flep and chief’s son Potom (both voiced by Junko Hori), but also resentment from the Village Chief (Masao Mishima) and duplicitous Drago (Yasushi Nagata). Later on, Horus rescues the beautiful, bewitched Hilda (Etsuko Ichihara) and her animal friends, friendly squirrel Chiro (Noriko Ohara) and shifty owl Toto (also voiced by Hisashi Yokomori). Her mellifluous singing has a hypnotic effect on the villagers, lulling them into a false sense of security so they stop fortifying their home and listen to her all day. It’s all part of Grunwald’s wicked plan, one that even Horus struggles to stop, when the villagers turn on him.

Far from just another fantasy adventure, Little Norse Prince was intended as a call for revolution, both political and in the animated medium. Miyazaki and Takahata were ardent Marxists, part of a generation of college-educated youth dismayed to see left-wing idealism and Japan’s post-war dream being slowly betrayed. The fifties and sixties saw rampant consumerism on the rise, not to mention Japan playing a key role in America’s war on Asian communism. Just like in the West, it was an era of student unrest, only where their European counterparts looked to live action movies, Cahiers du Cinema and Jean-Luc Godard, Japanese lefties looked to manga: Osamu Tezuka, the Showa 24s, and especially the rebellious ninja boy tales of Sanpei Shirato.

Miyazaki and Takahata wanted Little Norse Prince to be the anime equivalent of Shirato’s Marxist-leaning manga, and also a riposte to the cookie-cutter television shows they felt were dragging the medium down. Thus the film boasts strong scenes of psychological realism (e.g. when Horus kills the monster fish, he is attacked by young Flep, angry he can no longer avenge his father) and bold statements about the difference between “real” art and “false” art as an opium for the masses, alongside moments of real visual panache: an action sequence done in still frame, staccato editing modelled after Sergei Eisenstein, scenes of peasants hammering anvils that resemble Soviet propaganda films.

There are truisms here, like how in the conflicted Hilda, Takahata illustrates how fear drives good people to do bad things, although the core idea that when people stand together they can defeat any monster (be it giant fish, demons or fascism) has precedent in such non-communist works as the westerns of John Ford. Toei’s top brass were breathing down Takahata and Miyazaki’s necks, so this includes all the cuddly animals, Godzilla-style giant monster fights (including Moog vs. a frozen mammoth), and sing-along musical numbers - most involving adorable little Mauni (Yoko Mizugaki) - one expects from a children’s film, but strikes a fine balance between straight drama and cuteness.

What moves most is its makers faith in the inherent goodness of human beings, with every major character contributing something to the final fight. Unfortunately, the film was not a commercial success in Japan, although it was well received in Europe (under the title: The Little Prince Valiant, implying a bogus connection with the famous comic strip) and especially Russia. It would be nine more years before an artistically mature anime became a mainstream hit, by which time Miyazaki and Takahata (demoted to Toei’s television unit in the interim) had notched up a string of hit children’s series and were ready to launch their own studio.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 4222 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: