Interestingly enough, despite my love of the fantastical, mysterious and adventurous, one of my greatest inspirations is a film that focuses not on the content of a whimsical imagination, but on a young artist with just such an imagination.
Whisper of the Heart – an animated film from Studio Ghibli, is shockingly normal in setting, yet so heartfelt and extraordinary in the most wonderful of ways. It is a journey of self-discovery, and a celebration of finding a dream and pursuing it, regardless if it is on the road less taken. It does not solely praise natural talent, but hard work and perseverance. Inclusively it is funny, adorable and romantic, with exceptional detail and quality depicted in the animation style, the musical score, the seasonal changes, the sensations of each environment, and the behaviour and mannerisms of the characters.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been brought of tears every single time I’ve watched it. But it’s easy to see how I can relate so deeply with the film: I am a writer too, and gave gone through a lot of similar motions as the main character in the story.
But I believe everyone, youth or adult, creative or technically minded, would be able to relate to this film. Even if you don’t really appreciate animation, I would implore you to look beyond its presentation style, and see the depth, genuine emotion and charisma it brings to life. If you’ve had passion for anything at all, you’ll be moved … otherwise there must be something wrong with you. Seriously.
One of my favourite quote scenes comes from this movie. I have added it below. You need not have seen Whisper of the Heart to glean the inspiration from this quote. It would strike a chime straight through to the soul of every artist.
Shizuku, the main character, has just pitched her story idea to the grandfather of Seiji, the boy with whom she forms a strong bond.
Mr. Nishi: Wait a minute, I’ve got something to show you (retrieves a rock from his cabinet). I think you’ll like this (hands Shizuku the rock) – take a look.
Shizuku: It looks like a rock.
Mr. Nishi: It’s a special kind of rock called geode. Hold it close to your eye and look inside – that’s right, like that. (Shines small torch beside stone, which lights up the green crystals inside)
Shizuku: (gasps) Look at that!
Mr. Nishi: Those crystals are called beryl. There are pieces of raw emerald still inside.
Shizuku: Aren’t emeralds worth a lot of money?
Mr. Nishi: Sure, but they need to be cut and polished first. When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw and natural state, with hidden gems inside. You have to dig deep down and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you have found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work. Oh, and here’s the tricky part – look at the crack in the geode.
Shizuku: OK (looks inside the top crack)
Mr. Nishi: You see the big green crystal there, you could spend years polishing that, and it wouldn’t be worth much at all. The smaller crystals are much more valuable. And there may even be some deeper inside, which we can’t see, that are even more precious …
Shizuku: What if I look inside myself and I don’t find any gems? What if I’m just a rock? I’m going to try anyway! I’m going to write that story and I’ll let you be the first to read it!
I guess what I really wanted to emphasize with this post is that we should all strive to make our dreams a reality. Each of us has a desire to be or do something in particular, and although we may not know if we’ll end up being any good at it, it’s important to try. It’s important to believe in yourself and to keep working at whatever it is you are passionate about. The only way you will bring worth to your gems, is if you continue to cut and polish them.
To all you writers, singers, musicians, painters, illustrators and animators out there … keep pursuing your inspirations – and take that road less travelled!