Gauche the Cellist

Oh! Production Studio

Written & Directed by Isao Takahata/Produced by Kōichi Murata/Music by Michio Mamiya/Based on the Short Story by Kenji Miyazawa

Gauche is a simple, quiet man who lives by himself in the country near a small town in the early 1900s. He keeps a garden and plays the cello for the local orchestra, which performs concerts and also accompanies the silent movies that are currently in vogue. The Beethoven that the orchestra is planning to perform soon, however, seems to be a bit much for him, and he never can seem to satisfy the conductor. Throughout the week before the concert, Gauche has a stream of unexpected visitors–nearby animals who have been touched by his music and who want him to play for them again. He ends up playing through the night and going to bed exhausted in the morning, never realizing that while he’s playing for his woodland visitors, he’s also getting a great deal of practice.

I found Gauche the Cellist to be an enjoyable tale providing a placid look into a bygone era. It’s based on the short story of the same name by Kenji Miyazawa, which was originally published in the 1930s. The story itself is bucolic and almost fable-like; it’s certainly not meant to be taken as a true slice-of-life story. You’ve got talking animals, nights that go by in a flash, and various other improbably happenings. Still, it works in an old-fashioned way. One of the most outstanding aspects of this movie is the music; rather, music is the heart of the story. There is a great deal of classical music worked into the soundtrack–often with a Tom and Jerry-like effect, although also at times with a more Fantasia sort of feel. The animation is definitely old-school, but nice for all that. I love that the director is one of the co-founders of Studio Ghibli–and I must say that this has a somewhat Ghibli-like tone. I think Gauche the Cellist is a pleasant, simple movie that would be great to watch with children–or as a nice change from the clangor of much of today’s movie-writing.


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