EarthSea 4*

dvd 2004 Earthsea, from Ursula LeGuin 1980+ series, is an 4* awesome vista of spectacular British Columbia Canada mountain cliffs, green trees and moss, blue sea and sky, schooners great and small, sails flapping, computer castles, in 1001 islands, an imaginary medieval time of cape, crown, sword, staff, horse. Trailer. Humor is humanizing, lighter and better than Tolkein or Rowling, less loss of loved ones, plus moral of self-acceptance. Fun at School.

Blacksmith's son Ged (Xmen Iceman Shawn of the Ashmore identical twins), bright blue eyes in hobbity rufflable red-gold curls aspires to more than a peasant's future. He has dreams and visions of a lovely brunette Tenar (Kristin Kreuk) beckoning him down an dim stone maze. On his departure from the village, his white-haired teacher Marion (Betty Philips, not voice) gives him a necklace to wear always, her only possession when washed ashore, memory lost, in a great storm. Evil King Tygath (Sebastian Roche, royal English accent amid plebian NA voices) conquers with Kargide troops and schemes with lover luscious blonde priestess Kossil (Jennifer Calvert, home Vancouver to London) for immortality by releasing the destructive Nameless Ones. Legend says the Amulet of Peace to heal Earthsea was broken and lost long ago, when a similar pair enacted the same plot, and a great storm destroyed much.
"Of course the other half of the amulet isn't secreted away in some flowery meadow next to a babbling brook (where the film began)" scoffs Ged, heading down into tombs below bloodthirsty horde headquarters, following advice of a delightfully lithpy toothy growl of dragon Orm Embar (unaugmented Peter Kent).

The quest passes through a world of great natural beauty, (Stargate Digital Vancouver) special-effect vicious spooks, and the aforementioned tricky riddling fiery dragon. Although not elevated by any unusual spark of distinction, this is the fairy tale classic we've always known, a lovely legend of faith and redemption, to sweet madrigal song chorus and rhythmic drums. Title track.
DVD dated 2004, probably no sequels, too bad.

Spoilers to the plot, not the end:
Treacherous Kossil poisons the temple leader Reverend Mother Thar (Isabel Rosselini). Animal husbandry expert Ogion (Danny Glover) gives Ged secret name SparrowHawk, but the boy is too impatient and heads for the island Roke school of magic led by English-accent Arch Magus Nemril (Alan Scarfe in own white beard). His pride and ability challenged, he gravely errs. From the temple guardians, he releases the soul-devouring Gebbeth (Mark Acheson) who kills all in his path to consume Ged. But steadfast pal Vetch (Christopher Gauthier) diverts his attention from food to help.

Scene Selection has sound track on every choice, an unusual bonus I like

The World of Earthsea made real
Five days to midnight, not much of a trailer

Director Commentary
Robert Lieberman covered skin, tempered violence, hid dragon's body, left out lesbians. Subtlety has better effect than soapbox shouting of LeGuin. I'd puzzled over some oddness of Ged's father's voice. Turns out a heavy Scot brogue was dubbed over, as was the old lady Mary for an older soft English quaver, and a soldier. The director seemed unaware of the British high-class accents cast those who (thought they) were. Threw me when cameo venerated religious icon Lady Elfarren (Amanda Tapping) spoke normal Canadian, not her TV Sanctuary British accent. Juxtaposed against a modern phrasing and slurring is an archaic style I'd prefer more.

Deliberate incorporation of light crackles, flickers (3K candles), livestock, birds, water in every shot, real smoke guns, huts, cracking floorboards, 3K+ scrolls, magnified eye, amalgam of known cultures (Africa, Middle East, Moorish), avoiding look-alike long white hair and beard and pointy hats (our 21st century earth still has magic-users who look like Ogion), make us unconsciously accept sets and costumes as reality. Styrofoam has come a long way. I was unaware of the re-used sets; it lends continuity. Costumes add to my sense of reality: linen, leather, brocade, silk, fur, chain-mail. His sense of clown white makeup diminishing the scariness of the Shadow, teeniness of dungeon doors, the foreboding formidable. corresponded to mine.

Avoiding heavy melodrama or slapstick cartoon, the director strikes the right balance. What to do if a rat won't go though a hole and has to be stuffed through? Write extra lines and crack a tubby joke. Traditional closing scenes bring the cast together; on 1001 islands, a magic beam lights everyone. I used more trailers than my usual review, because none seem to correctly convey the balance of scenery, action, humor, and caring (too much silence, indoors, dreamy romance, or dark) in the original.
Spoiler Trailer better scenery gives away end
Tales from Earthsea is an 2010 anime version

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