Tales of Earthsea, though, explains its own plot at every turn, having its characters narrate the film’s themes to one another. Em Nordling reads, writes, and manages research in Louisville, KY. Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. [1], Tales from Earthsea won the annual Endeavour Award, for the best book by a writer from the Pacific Northwest,[2] and Locus Award, Best Collection, for speculative fiction collections. Lord Cob was once a skilled but dark wizard banished to the Dry Lands by Sparrowhawk for controlling the dead so he could become the Archmage wizard himself. It follows Prince Arren after he mysteriously murders his father and flees his kingdom, happening upon the mage Sparrowhawk only by chance. Other stories feature strong and assertive women who in various ways challenge male dominance. Using the classic Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin as inspiration, director Goro Miyazaki (son of acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki) has created a beautiful mythic kingdom and brought it to life with a good versus evil theme, lots of stunning derring-do, … It’s not that the film talks down to its young audience members; it’s that it doesn’t seem to know who its audience is at all. Therru is suspicious of Arren due to his bloodlust in battle, but comes around to him after singing a bafflingly long song about loneliness and realizing that they’re kindred spirits. Another aspect of both the Earthsea series and Ghibli that I find laudable is their willingness to take their young audiences seriously. [3], "Darkrose and Diamond" was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1999. Tales from Earthsea is a collection of fantasy stories and essays by American author Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Harcourt in 2001. Ghibli and Le Guin alike are known for their excellent, albeit very different, explorations on gender—willful, independent young girls in the case of the former, and boundary-testing folk of all genders in the latter. It was, more than anything, a wasted opportunity. Feminine features, a whispering androgynous voice, and most horrible of all, the seduction of a young boy, make him a queer trope to be reckoned with, and a counterpoint to these creators’ otherwise fascinating record of gender critiques. Women can only be witches, which is the despised lowest rank of the magical world, as expressed in the proverb "Weak as women's magic, wicked as women's magic". Tenar, my favorite character in the novels, is reduced from a morally complicated cult survivor to doting mother and patient lover and acolyte. But lines of similarity are some of the least interesting ways to read an adaptation—especially with a film so lifeless and weird. Studio Ghibli has much the same effect; though they are often compared to Disney, Ghibli deals in Big Ideas and unreal scenarios through very real, flawed humans. They were each written in a way that their characters had their own voice, while exploring a wide range of characters, narrative, and philosophy to explain why Earthsea is as it is. Fans of Le Guin’s book series will recognize many elements and plot points reshuffled into new formations in this description—The Farthest Shore is probably its driving inspiration, but Arren’s “possession” is a clear callback to Sparrowhawk’s in A Wizard of Earthsea, and Therru is only introduced in Tehanu. Earthsea became the setting for six books, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea, and continuing with The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind. There are other ways to look at Goro Miyazaki’s sombre fable of a troubled boy-prince in a magic world, who becomes a murderer and outcast and is caught in a war between wizards. Unfortunately, things fail to go where they are promised. Things get started when the (good) king’s son stabs him and steals his magic sword before fleeing. The ship's weatherworker is distressed to realize that he has lost the power to control the wind and waves, but is even more disturbed when he observes two dragons fighting above the clouds where one of them is eventually killed. A Wizard of Earthsea, beloved by a generation of readers, has been adapted for radio, film, and television several times—and yet Ursula K. Le Guin disapproved of the majority of adaptations of her work. It’s difficult to appreciate a story’s take on ideas about mortality and love when those ideas are delivered by caricatures. 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