“Tales” is a beautiful failure for Earthsea

Fair use- film poster, low resolution, used to illustrate the subject of the article.

Just finished “Tales from Earthsea” from Studio Ghibli. I was really excited at first, would this be the glorious animated treatment Earthsea deserves? Unfortunately, it disappoints.

I read Ursula K. Le Guin’s books as a kid. They’re deeper, darker, and much more rich than this film or Sci Fi’s miniseries. The mythology of her world is beautiful. This film skims the surface of the source material, picking up seemingly random flashes of the original tale, mixed together oddly and without context.

Really, it’s more like an original tale, very loosely wrapped in the Earthsea mythology. A plodding tempo and oddly whispered dialogue tested my patience. What could have taken 45 minutes to calmly show takes over two hours. The pay off is poignant, but shallow.

Bonus points: Willem Dafoe has a few chilling moments as the villain in the English dub. The man chews scenery with just his voice.

In any case, it’s a good reason to pick up a set of the original books. Along with Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quartet and Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising Sequence, the three main Earthsea books are my favorite young adult fiction.

Tales from Earthsea on Wikipedia