You know Hayao Miyazaki. The filmmaker behind the genius that is Studio Ghibli, he’s the man responsible for My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle. No matter what your opinion is on anime, odds are you have watched and enjoyed a Miyazaki film. He transcends genres, mediums and international borders. He’s just a once-in-a-lifetime director.
Miyazaki is a man of principle as well. In 2003, he refused to come to the United States and collect his Oscar for Spirited Away due to his opposition to the Iraq War. He won Best Animated Feature Film, but later explained:
“The reason I wasn’t here for the Academy Award was because I didn’t want to visit a country that was bombing Iraq. At the time, my producer shut me up and did not allow me to say that, but I don’t see him around today. By the way, my producer also shared in that feeling.”
Now, who would have thought that Miyazaki also had an encounter with a modern-day villain, sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, and got the best of him?
On the Reddit for popular leftist comedy podcast Chapo Trap House, a user named infohack dug up an old Guardian interview where Weinstein and Miyazaki had a confrontation over the edits to be had on his film Princess Mononoke.
Miyazaki was intensely resolute: “No cuts.” Weinstein wanted to edit down his masterpiece. So here’s what happened.
“Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most belligerent producers, received a samurai sword in the post because his reputation preceded him. It came with a note that said simply: “No cuts.” By 1997, Weinstein’s Miramax company had been taken over by Disney, which had a distribution deal with Japanese animation revolutionaries Studio Ghibli.
“Weinstein became one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers by acquiring and ruthlessly cutting films to make them as commercial as possible. Fearing his masterpiece Princess Mononoke would be butchered, director and animator Hayao Miyazaki sent Weinstein the sword with the note advising him not to do it.
“Actually, Miyazaki later claimed it was his producer, not him, who sent the sword. But he still took the credit for putting Weinstein in line. He told the Guardian: “Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts. I defeated him.”
Understand, then, that Studio Ghibli does not play around! No cuts means no cuts. When a Hollywood hack wants to ruin a masterpiece, leave it to a Ghibli producer to send the proper message. And this was back in the late 90s, when Weinstein was all but untouchable, and could get away with anything. It’s great to see Miyazaki win, and stop his cuts from happening. After all, who wants to see an efficient, commercialized version of a sprawling classic film? Nobody with good sense.
Salutes to Hayao Miyazaki for his service, and if you wish to read further into the dark, crippled, pathetic heart of Harvey Weinstein, turn here.