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Just in case some of you aren’t already reading Daniel Thomas MacInnes’ sublime Ghibli Blog and had missed this I thought I’d post it here – UK paper The Independent has an interview with the world’s greatest animated film-maker Hayao Miyazaki. Its a great piece – as well as a brief overview of his work, he talks about working on the forthcoming Ponyo, and why he made the decision to avoid digital techniques in it’s production:

Having experimented with digital and CG technology on Howl’s Moving Castle, Miyazaki has gone back to basics for Ponyo, which is made up of a stunning 170,000 individual hand-painted frames. He says he has seen none of the landmark digital animations of the past two decades, including Toy Story and Pixar Studio’s recent smash Wall.E, despite being friends with Pixar’s creative director John Lasseter.

“I can’t stand modern movies,” he winces. “The images are too weird and eccentric for me.” He shuns TV and most modern media, reading books or travelling instead. It is no surprise to find that the multimillionaire director’s car, parked outside the Ghibli studio, is an antique Citröen CV, an icon of minimalist, unfussy driving.

Ghibli’s creative engine house is a reflection of its founder’s preoccupation with authenticity and distrust of popular culture. New talent (the studio has just added another 150 animators to its 270 full-time staff) is tested out in a sort of animation boot camp, where the use of cell phones, blogs, iPods and other electronic devices is forbidden.

“Young people are surrounded by virtual things,” he laments. “They lack real experience of life and lose their imaginations. Animators can only draw from their own experiences of pain and shock and emotions.”

He is known to lecture constantly on the need to find harmony between the human hand, eye and brain, and the ever-expanding computer toolbox. Ponyo, he says, is partly about living without technology. “Most people depend on the internet and cellphones to survive, but what happens when they stop working? I wanted to create a mother and child who wouldn’t be defeated by life without them.”

It’s a fascinating read, but somehow makes that August release date seem even further away…