Set in a period when miners were commonplace, this tells of a young orphan boy named Pazu, who is working in a mine with some other miners when he sees a beautiful but unconscious young girl named Sheeta float down from the sky courtesy of a mysterious crystal around her neck.
When Sheeta regains consciousness the following morning she tells Pazu of how she escaped from a group of pirates led by their mother Dola, and how they were after her crystal when she fell from an airship in which she was held captive by a man named Muska. After that, she does not recall a thing, but she catches sight of a photograph of a mysterious floating castle named Laputa (Pazu's father had taken the picture before dying, in an ultimately vain attempt to prove that such a place existed).
An excited Pazu, who learns that Sheeta wants to go to Laputa, agrees to join forces with her to help her get there and to prove to those that doubted his father's words that Laputa really exists somewhere in the clouds above. But how can they stay one step ahead of Muska and the Dola gang?
After seeing SPIRITED AWAY in 2003, I suddenly became intrigued when titles from director Hayao Miyazaki's back catalogue were being released on DVD, and, after heavy recommendation from other Miyazaki fans (mostly on IMDb), I took the plunge and ordered LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY, and I'm delighted that I did because this film is an absolute stonker! This Optimum Releasing version is the best out of the two versions that I've seen, and has proper subtitles (the other version I've seen, which was the previous Buena Vista DVD, had dub-titles instead of subtitles, which was rather annoying as there was a lot of dialogue that Disney added to their English dub, and in that version the subtitles followed that instead of being a translation of the Japanese dialogue). You can also watch an English dub (which has voices by the likes of James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin and Mark Hamill), and this has SDH subtitles; however, due to the verbose nature of Disney's English dub and the fact that the voices of Pazu and Sheeta don't really fit (even some of the music is different), I really do recommend the Japanese soundtrack for this film.
Despite dating back to 1986, LAPUTA has lost none of its awesome visual impact and engaging story and characters, the overall charm is still there, the pace is just fine, and the music (by Joe Hisaishi) is possibly the best musical score that I've ever heard out of all the Miyazaki productions that he was worked on, and you can really appreciate that rich orchestral music oozing from those speakers! Oh, and of course there's the excellent quality of the artwork, which we have come to expect from Miyazaki and the rest of his team at Studio Ghibli (the film was also produced by Isao Takahata, who would go on to direct the masterful GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES in 1988)
Perhaps it's a little too scary for very young children (particularly the second half), but for everyone else this addition to your DVD collection is absolutely vital. A classic of the genre.