Art in Film – Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky and Land Art

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An art bromance or something more?


Land art celebrity and hippie hero Andy Goldsworthy seems hell-bent on attaching himself at the hip to the anime god Hayao Miyazaki. And shoot, why not? Miyazaki’s lowest rated film still gets a B which gives him a GPA that I’ve never come close to.


Can you guess which one is Goldsworthy? Hint: he’s the sheep. 


There’s a 2001 documentary in which Andy Goldsworthy makes a bunch of pieces all over the world. He uses only things that he finds in the area that he’s in, so it’s kind of like reality TV for land art nerds.


But the “finding” is a metonym for the abstract things Goldsworthy pulls straight out of Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle In the Sky (1986). He doesn’t tell anybody what he’s up to so the film is secret performance art too, Real World: OC meets Marina Abramović.


Or maybe there was a glitch in the parallel reality where Miyazaki is born as the son of a Scottish mathematician and they’re actually a single spirit cohabiting the same universe... That might explain Miyazaki’s fascination with British culture too (sorry Scotland, we know you’re unique). But idk, those kinds of spirit studies are outside the scope of my witchcraft.


 It could be coincidence but, frames intersecting with a tree as a collision of different types of creativity coexisting is a pretty specific coincidence don’t you think?


Andy Goldsworthy, untitled from Rivers and Tides

Originally posted by Ghibli-Collector on tumblr


And it’s not just forms that he’s borrowing (what was that thing about great artists steal?), in the documentary, Goldsworthy acts like he’s waxing philosophic while paraphrasing Miyazaki’s script almost exactly.



Castle in the Sky (1986), originally posted by A Pretty Fire; Goldsworthy


Overcome by melancholy sublime Goldsworthy says of his tidal stick nest, “It’s being taken off to another place, it doesn’t feel at all like destruction.” (Rivers and Tides Vol. 2 6:00) He could just as easily have been narrating the part in Laputa where the castle floats off into the sky.


Andy Goldsworthy, Cone at Penpont, Scotland (also in Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh)

Laputa Castle in the Sky via Fancaps


Miyazaki’s mystic, earth man Uncle Pomme is super tight with rocks. “All of these rocks are my friends, they often talk to me.” (Laputa, Uncle Pomme) Goldsworthy has serious FOMO that Pomme and the rocks are hanging without him and pretty much his whole deal is trying to befriend sediment. “That really is what my art is trying to do, it’s trying to understand the stone. I obviously don’t understand it well enough, yet.” (R&T vol. 3 ~5:35) Don’t worry dude, you’ll get there soon, just keep it up and be yourself.


Look at these little flying castles in-waiting that Goldsworthy did for a Holocaust memorial. They’re doing improbable things like survive while trapped in stone, which is obviously a good, on-topic image, but it’s also exactly Miyazaki’s thing about humans and the planet. He does it in every film, and Goldsworthy kind of does it in every work too. Honestly won’t be surprised if they take off eventually and drag their roots around the sky. The tenacity of life my dudes.


Garden of Stones at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, New York source ; Castle in the Sky source


Ok here’s a conspiracy theory that doesn’t involve metaphysics: Rivers and Tides was actually Goldworthy’s attempt at switching to a career as a film critic. Don’t worry though it’s mostly only viewed in environmental studies classes at liberal arts colleges, Goldsworthy still has to make art for a living (yeah, rough ticket) and Miyazaki gets to do his thing without some Scot stealing his intellectual turf.


 By John Cappetta

John Cappetta


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