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Night on the Galactic Railroad

4.0 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2001)
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Special Features

  • History
  • DVD-ROM Features: script, art gallery, credits

Product Details

  • Actors: Mayumi Tanaka, Chika Sakamoto, Junko Hori, Ayumi Ishijo, Kaori Nakahara
  • Directors: Arlen Tarlofsky, Gisaburo Sugii
  • Writers: Hiroshi Masumura, Kenji Miyazawa, Minoru Betsuyaku
  • Producers: Atsumi Tashiro, John O'Donnell, Masato Hara
  • Format: Animated, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Central Park Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2001
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LP43
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,493 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Night on the Galactic Railroad" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barbara Nostrand on December 29, 2002
Format: DVD
This film is based on the story "Ginka Tetsudo no Yoru" by Miyazawa Kenji. This film was originally released as a major motion picture in Japan where the complete works of Miyazawa Kenji were reissued and sold in theatre lobbies. By comparison, Tonari no Totoro was a double bill with Graves of the Fireflies and passed with comparatively little notice.
Miyazawa Kenji was a significant poet and author of children's literature in the early twentieth century. As noted by others, death is a major theme in this film as are issues of friendship and family responsibility. The film is rather weighty and seriously beautiful.
Although the characters are human beings in the original Japanese story, they are primarily represented by cats in the film. This choice was a bit controversial when the film was originally released. The characters in the original story are clearly human beings and Japan does not have a strong tradition of anthropomorphic animals in either manga or anime. Further, anthropomorphic animals in folklore such as the badger and the fox are often dangerous and not sympathetic at all. Those who have read published mistranslations of the original story may be surprised to learn that the main characters have Italian names. Regardless, the characters and story are quite compelling. I was deeply moved by the film when I first saw it and subsequently read the original story in Japanese.
The artwork and animation for this film are both excellent. However, those who are fond of the cut-still approach to animation often found in Japanese animation for television may be disappointed by this film. Rather, the drawing and animation style of this film reminds me of a dark version of Disney's Fantasia of sixty years ago.
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Format: VHS Tape
In my opinion, "Night on the Galactic Railroad" is an outstanding piece of animation.
Many reviewers will note, and accurately so, that this movie is both heavy and slow as melted gold. It's true: in our current world of sound bites and media clips, fast action and short attention, this movie stands alone. This is especially so when the movie is compared to other anime, a category under which fall some of the fastest and slickest movies in the world. If nothing else, "Night on the Galactic Railroad" gets points for sheer originality and ingenuity.
Gisaburo Sugii (the director) has taken Kenji Miyazawa's children's story and created for it a living atmosphere. While highly detailed backgrounds are nothing new for anime, "Night on the Galactic Railroad" combines its finely crafted images with a brilliant use of frame shots, pacing, and audio montage to create a surreal and ethereal viewing experience.
While often advertised as a children's movie, "Night on the Galactic Railroad" most certainly does not tell a very light story. With both religious and nihilistic imagery, Sugii presents us with a powerful treatise on death and life. However, even if you do not appreciate the story itself, the beauty in the dream-like artwork and animation cannot be denied.
If this is the kind of movie that you'd just as soon sleep through, then you're missing out on some amazing cinema. Admittedly, most people these days would probably rather numb their brains in front of the "Tomb Raider" movie, than sit through the likes of "Don't Look Now" or "Blow Up." But, who knows....
If you want to be pulled into a beautifully crafted and mesmerizing world, then watch "Night on the Galactic Railroad."
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Format: DVD
Previous reviewer Ezra Shapiro dismissed this piece as "heavily theistic; it's designed to make you think, but only in one direction," and is troubled by the "glowing crosses on the horizon." However, it seems to me that he misses one or two key points.
Perhaps most obvious is the repeated note that the train is travelling in the Dream Dimension -- a creation of Mind, filled with artifacts of the IMAGINATION. It is not the whole tale; something lies quite beyond this. While most of the train debarks at Miyazawa's depiction of "Christian Heaven," Giovanni and his friend Campanella remain on board, lonely passengers headed to what is referred to as "True Heaven." This is depicted as a black-hole-like "Sack of Coal," where Campanella suggests his "Mother" is waiting to be reunited to him. As he is not speaking of his "mortal mother," whom he has long since left behind, I suggest that this is the "Mystical Mother," known in the Western Mystery Tradition as "Binah," the principle of limitation beyond which is the formlessness of the Unmanifest. Attention to such details adds a significant dimension to the tale which Mr. Shapiro apparently did not see. It is definately not "one-directional theism" as he suggests.
Miyazawa encourages us to compare Campanella's act of courage and kindness in saving his friend, with that of the young Tutor, who allowed his two innocent charges to drown that they might enter into his Christian version of Heaven. However, other characters in the film are ambivalent about the young Tutor's definition of "happiness."
Finally, as others have pointed out, Giovanni fits more with the image of the descending Bodhisattva than with a traditional Christian theistic view.
This movie is a visual feast, the story line exceedingly well-crafted, and its message is subtle and nuanced. First-rate!
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