The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

The Castle of Cagliostro is a 1979 anime heist film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is pretty solid and admirable as the director’s feature debut.

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Lupin! Don’t you dare die before I get to arrest you!

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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It follows a gentleman thief named Arsene Lupin III who heads to the small country of Cagliostro and there he attempts to save the princess from forced marriage. This is a very classical, old-fashioned heist flick with comedy, romance and mystery overtones to it. I definitely liked its charming, old-fashioned approach, but I also disliked its overwhelming action.

The film is the best at being a mystery as the exploration of the castle and such scenes are very interesting. The romantic scenes are also fine and the heist action scenes are mostly really well done. But still the chases and fights went on for too long and the movie surely needed a more sophisticated, calmer approach.

The characterization is solid albeit far from great. Arsene Lupin III is a pretty good protagonist. He is fun and amusing, but not particularly likable and overly cocky for my liking. Lady Clarisse is a typical love interest meaning that she is just there to be Lupin’s girlfriend. She’s charming, but a weak female character nonetheless. Others are solid and the villains are competent, but none of them stand out from the crowd in any particular fashion. The voice acting is terrific though.

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The Castle of Cagliostro features animation that most would deem dated nowadays, but for its time it was terrific. This 1979 animation is not as polished and is sometimes too crude, but the character design is solid and some of the backgrounds are very nice. The interiors and the castle are particularly beautiful and some of the film’s imagery truly is arresting. That intriguing imagery definitely helps the plot and mystery a lot in the process.

I found the pacing weak as the film is overly quick and rushed in pace with way too many action sequences. Most of the action is solid and fun, but some of it is overlong and also goofy. The humor definitely is not the strongest and the film is too comedic in my opinion and a more dramatic approach would have been more fitting for this type of film.

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The Castle of Cagliostro Movie Review

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The dialogue is pretty good and the film has its memorable scenes such as that moving ending and all of the scenes in the castle which are the most memorable parts of the flick. The film lacks any themes or message and is thus far from Miyazaki’s later efforts when it comes to sophistication, emotion and also world building. This film does explore and execute its charming setting superbly, but is definitely confined in space. Overall, I liked the film, but it is just solid and never great. For a debut, it is nonetheless very strong and it proved promising.

The Castle of Cagliostro lacks thematically speaking, the characterization is solid but not great and the film has overwhelming action in it, but it is overall a pretty solid feature debut for Hayao Miyazaki with memorable imagery and an interesting story with a fun heist angle to it with comedic, romantic and mystery elements also thrown into the mix.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1970s, 1979, Animated, ANIME, FILM DECADES, Foreign, Heist, Japanese, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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