Tonight marked the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival—which meant it also marked the international premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy And The Heron, the final animated film from the Studio Ghibli master. (The film’s been out for a few weeks in Japan, where, despite a deliberate lack of marketing, it’s reportedly been doing wildly good box office numbers.) Miyazaki wasn’t on hand to introduce his movie, but another Oscar-winning director was: Ghibli superfan Guillermo Del Toro, who gave a lovely, impassioned speech about Miyazaki’s work.
“We are living in a time when Mozart is composing symphonies,” Del Toro tells the packed crowd at the film’s premiere. “Van Gogh is painting paintings. Because Miyazaki-san is a master of that stature.” (Of course, Del Toro also made a reference to The Boy And The Heron being one of the only movies that could “make my fat butt move” to get up in front of the crowd and give such an intro, so it wasn’t all just blanket hagiography.)
It’s a genuinely lovely speech, as Del Toro—who calls Miyazaki “in my estimation, the greatest director of animation ever”—highlights those things that have always been great about his work. “He has made his films as full of problems and questions as he is. These are not easy films, but they are films that portray him so intimately that you feel that you are having a conversation with him. They are paradoxical, because he understands that beauty cannot exist without horror, and that delicacy cannot exist without brutality. He makes elegance of these things, and shows life on the screen in a beautiful way.”
Del Toro expressed his belief that the “world goddamn premiere” of The Boy And The Heron would bear out that legacy; early reviews out of TIFF suggest that he’s very much right, with critics praising it as one of Miyazaki’s most mature and fascinating works.