Bài giải mã của một người hâm mộ Castle In the Sky của Hayao Miyazaki

The Origins of Laputa

by Andy Pham

Laputa is the focus of a 1986 Ghibli Studios film, “Castle in the Sky”. Since its release, the film was hailed internationally as a classic masterpiece. But of course, every masterpiece has its inspirations. Today, I am going to unearth the hidden roots behind the fantastical floating kingdom.

One of Director Hayao Miyazaki’s largest inspirations was the fiction-writer Jules Verne, a sci-fi pioneer. Interestingly, in “Gulliver’s Travels” (by Verne, 1726), Gulliver discovers a flying kingdom named Laputa.Is this a coincidence? I think not. Strangely, the movie depicts Laputa as a beautiful but powerful kingdom, whose people eventually left it for the Earth below. Though in the book, Laputa is a tyrannical kingdom, ruling over the lands below with its great power. Its people are strange, and don’t make proper use of their mass scientific knowledge.

In fact, the words “La Puta” mean “the whore” in Spanish and Portugese. Jules Verne probably intended this for the book, but Director Hayao Miyazaki claims that he would’ve never named his movie that if he had known the true meaning (the words have no meaning in English and Japanese).

Now the question seems to change to: where did Jules Verne get his idea? The most direct inspiration seems to be from a series of paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1563, “The Tower of Babel”. The painting depicts the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, and man’s greed. I think that there may be a connection between the moral of the tale, and the Laputians in Gulliver’s Travels. The most notable connection though, is the architecture. The tower is depicted with a circular base, and arched entry points all around, much like both versions of Laputa.

Finally, we only have one more question to answer. In the movie, Muska sends down a weapon of mass destruction to the earth from Laputa, referring to it as “Indra’s Arrow from the Ramayana”. Turns out, Indra’s Arrow was a form of punishment from the Hindu god Indra. The Ramayana was a Hindu epic poem, depicting various tales and teachings of the gods and sages.

So there you have it. The mystery of Laputa has been solved.

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