Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki
Though I am very much against bootlegs, I couldn’t say no when this box set fell into my hands.
Originating somewhere in China, this 14-DVD set contains all of Studio Ghibli’s work. That means not only all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films up to Spirited Away, but works by other directors such as 1994’s “Pon Poko” which I originally caught in its theatrical release in Japan all those years ago.
This is over $350 worth of DVDs here, and rumor has it that the box only cost $9. Yep. (I already own ‘Mononoke’ and ‘Totoro’ on DVD).
So, I’ve decided to watch all of these films in order, starting with this one from 1979, the first film that Miyazaki wrote and directed for the big screen. The director had already been directing episodes for the TV series of this very popular character, and this feature is not the first to feature Lupin III.
But a lot of Miyazaki’s future style can be glimpsed here. While this is mostly a rock’em sock’em adventure tale, with the Bond-like Lupin III rescuing a princess from a evil count, there are moments when the movie pauses to take in the countryside and you can feel Miyazaki’s love of nature.
A lot of “The Castle of Cagliostro” turns up in his later “Castle in the Sky: Laputa”: the same princess, a powerful trinket (a pendant in the latter, a ring here), a post-lapsidarian Eden-like castle, a dizzying habit of setting action sequences high above the ground; flying cars.
The film itself is a rollicking good adventure, with several great scenes. I especially liked how Lupin gained access to the castle through the water supply, and the final fight inside the machinery of the tower clock would have made Disney’s clock-cleaners proud.

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