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3.8 out of 5 stars
Little Norse Prince [DVD] [1968]
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2006
A landmark in the history of anime cinema, this film is a re-working of an oriental legend into a norse tale. It follows the story of a young boy called Hols, charting his acceptance into a fishing village and his battle against the demon Grunwald who killed his father.
Of course, being much older than films such as Spirited Away, the animation is much more primitive; yet even when one scene is reduced to being played out by a sequence of stills, the film loses none of its power. This is down to the believable and complex characters (the amiguous Hilda and the scheming chief's assistant being two good examples) , the majestic musical score and its epic theme of teamwork and honesty overcoming a seemingly unstoppable evil..... and, of course, a good old-fashioned adventure through spectacular landscapes. Even minor characters are unique and developed, creating empathy for the plight of the villagers and the designs of monsters and buildings is flawless throughout.
The film has a warmth which belies its age and can be enjoyed on so many different levels - as a historic piece of art, as a brilliant story, as a commentary on a time and on people in general. As such it is a timeless classic, completely enjoyable by all ages and i heartily recommend it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 December 2007
Well, I say it shows its age, but I'm not really sure it does. It certainly looks a lot older than the other Ghibli films I have seen, but then it *is* a lot older than them, pre-dating Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind by a massive 16 years, and My Neighbour Totoro by *twenty years* - this film is almost 40 years old now!

When you consider that, then it really is actually amazing how little it has aged. OK, the animation is quite primitive in places, with big fight/battle scenes consisting of just panning round still images - but with the added sound effects, this still works remarkably well, and gives a good sense of the energy of the scenes.

Regardless of the animation, and how dated it does look, this is actually a very enjoyable tale. Its set in a world that is less magical than those of Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, and very much has the feel of the worlds of Nordic legends. As ever with Ghibli Films, the world feels believable and you become captivated by it and the story.

This film tells a story in a much more traditional sense than other Ghibli films, and you can easily see this being a story that was passed down through the ages, told from parent to child, like many traditional legends. It's possibly also more suitable for younger children than some Ghibli films, as the story is less complex and easier to follow (due to the more traditional style of the story, and story telling); however, some of the scenes could frighten some children (though it's never as scary as Watership Down - it is scary in a similar way). If your children like legends or traditional fairy tales, then they would probably enjoy this film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2010
My boyfriend bought me the DVD of this film as a gift believing it would be similar to Spirited Away and Howls Moving Castle, which I am a great fan of. We watched it together and at first I was slightly disappointed at the animation which seemed somehow less magical and captivating than in those films. It also seemed a little slower to get going, taking perhaps 20 minutes before I was truly involved in the film and could not have stopped watching. I am glad we persevered - when Hols gets to the village and meets Hilda the film comes to life and becomes emotionally involving. In some ways the film is dark and sinister due to the threat of death hanging over the characters including children, but the themes are of innocence and love overcoming evil through perseverance. It was moving and I did have a tear in my eye at the end! What I did not realise until looking it up on Amazon was that this film was made in 1968 - over 40 years old. So whilst the animation does not look groundbreaking by today's standards it certainly stands up well. I did notice some mistakes in the English subtitles, but nothing that detracts from enjoyment of the film.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2006
Taiyô no Ôji Horusu no Daibôken (literally The Sun Prince Hols' Great Adventure) is the earliest Japanese animation to be released here by over a decade, which alone is bound to give it at least some novelty value. Being the very first to curve away from children and towards a young adult audience leaves it with a mixture of action and drama with the big musical numbers and naïve visual humour which we would associate with western cartoons. Quality is assured with the presence of Studio Ghibli founders Takahata Isao and Miyazaki Hayao as director and key animator respectively. The fantastical, myth-like story and setting (a fusion of northern Japan and Scandinavia) are certainly more akin to Miyazaki's films, though here they're treated with Takahata's characteristic objectivity and some political themes, more explicit than in their later work but still not the whole point of it. The nearest to it I could think of at the time I first watched it was Disney's Brother Bear, and there's evidence, even if it's more tenuous, that it could have been influenced by this as The Lion King was by Kimba the White Lion. The ending of Kirikou and the Sorceress also felt strongly reminiscent the dramatic encounters in this. But I prefer Hols over either those for its sense, almost smell, of folklore and "fushigi."

To be honest both the moral ("Co-operation is good!") and treachery-based plot are almost unbearably familiar today but the presentation manages to make it worth watching. Glaciated peaks, powdery snow and in particular the foam of turbulent streams (which I doubt has ever been done as well as it is here) are all lovingly detailed; voice acting is good even by Japanese standards and the music is rarely spectacular, but it's enjoyable and there's plenty of it. Most of all, there's this rare, strange to point of enchanting sense of melancholy permeating throughout much of the film, offset with scenes of scenes of ecstatic jubilation and Unfortunately the character designs are mostly unimaginative and don't go well with each other, but there are a few in the pleasingly simple style which was used in recent Legend of Zelda games. The only real problem is in the DVD treatment - it's sub-only, which is better than dub-only but restricts its appeal to younger viewers, and none of the songs appear in the subtitles. The lyrics aren't essential to the story but they add a beauty and emotion to it which has now been denied from the English-language audience. The also inconsistencies in the translation of honorifics and, as friend more knowledgeable in Japanese than I noticed, at least one outright mistake in the translation. Similarly the only extras are trailers for Hols and two other films (and badly damaged, unrestored transfers of them at that) which is not much but better than nothing. Some will also be put off by two sequences of stills with only sound effects, but there is generally much more background animation than is normally found in anime and this gives it considerable re-watching potential.

If this film had a better transfer, full and accurate subtitles and perhaps a little more in the way of extras, it would have got 5 stars. As it is, the weaknesses of the release bring it down by 2, and while I'd still recommend it for fellow fans of folklore and older animation, I don't consider it "great" enough by objective standards to still be 5-star material despite these significant drawbacks. If you liked this, I'd recommend the films "Fantastic Planet" (French animation) and "Raise the Red Lantern" (Chinese live-action) as well as the more obvious comparisons to Miyazaki's "Laputa" and "Princess Mononoke," with the same applying the other way round if you've seen any of those. Though differing greatly in subject and visual style, there's some feeling which unites them, something like ancient folklore mixing with the real and immediate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Little Norse Prince definitely looks like an older film - but it doesn't necessarily look dated. The main heroes of the film, the young Hols, does look a little bit 'Astroboy' at times but otherwise this could quite easily be a nineties anime feature rather than a late sixties film.

The team behind this would later become the mighty Studio Ghibli. The backgrounds and characters aren't as lavishly detailed as a modern Ghibli classic such as My Neighbour Totoro or Howl's Moving Castle - but they are still far better than a lot of more modern anime I've seen. It's the music that's probably dated the most, it sounds a bit tinny at times - but it's not bad.

If you're an anime fan, or have an interest in Hayao Miyazaki then you may already be aware that this film had a rush finish and some scenes exist in unanimated artwork. This doesn't ruin the pace of the film though. All the sound effects are there and the images are so good that the scenes don't lack any story-telling force. Those stills are one of my favourite aspects of the film.

In a nutshell: This is a stoneage adventure set in Northern Europe and you get a 'ye olde' adventure along the lines of old European legends like Beowulf. The DVD is subtitles only which might bother a few, but personally I prefer subs to a dub anyway. Such a landmark film in the history of anime should warrant some pretty funky extras - but unfortunately you don't get any interesting documentaries. It's a ripping yarn even if at times you do find yourself clock watching a bit.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This film is a very nice story. I do not rate my DVDs as the above person did by the extras that come with them, it should be on the qulity of the film. True this film comes with little extras, but it was made in 1968 before the whole DVD extras thing even came about. If I had seen this film when young, like say 8 or 9 I would of loved it and would of made my mum get a copy of it for me. Even now as an adult, I think this film is lovley. It has the wonderful drawings that this film company always have and it tells a story that is gripping and fun. I would say this was a great family film, but maybe not for very little children due to a few slightly scarey scenes.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2009
It just missed out on FOUR stars - because it does not have the original English dubbing from the 1960s. I was SOOOOO looking forward to hearing it again ESPECIALLY one of the songs the female lead sings .. sigh .. so sad.

That aside, this film is a wonderful pre-cursor for some of the great classic films and characters that followed it. The quality of the artistry is evident in the fine detail of the film.

If you like classic old films and don't mind the sub-titles .. you will enjoy this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2010
The video quality was pretty good considering its age and I liked that it was anamorphic. This is a great movie, but the subtitle substance was a bit lame at times, particularly exclamations. Perhaps they were literal translations of certain words, but not always well chosen. I suppose you get the gist of it all. Overall, very good.
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on 13 January 2015
Love Studio Ghibli, brilliant & wonderful films.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2014
It's in Japanese with subtitles. I didn't realise that when I bought it but my daughter was old enough it read and understand it.
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