Add in the wonderful music, simple and emotionally resonant, as well as each relationship being a form of love and charity and I am sold. All I need is a great theme and this film will be one of the great films of all time.
* * *
The story is about Kubo, a young storyteller who cares for his addled mother in a cave, and who is loved by a nearby town. Disaster strikes when his aunts, daughters of the Moon, find him and cruelly bind him to take him to the Moon to take his eye out. He escapes, to find his mother gone and he is led by a magical monkey, an origami representation of his father and a beetle-man to find his dead father’s armor.
The plot is really a loose collection of events that barely hang together, as any epic odyssey is a collection of events. As in any hero’s quest, the significance is the opportunities for the hero to learn significant lessons, which reach a climax of the hero’s stand.
But what we see by the end of the film is the figure who is always there, always making events occur, always watching, but never speaking until the film is ready to end: Kubo’s grandfather, the Moon. We see that the film was always about the relationship between Kubo and his grandfather, and the challenge between the values each stands for. The grandfather is a gentle man who just wants the respect he is due, and sees the world through eyes of logic. Kubo is the product of that heritage, but also the heritage of his father who values relationship above logic and honor. And of his mother, who chose love over the ways of his grandfather. So far, so good. Nothing really unique here.
What was an epic battle between good and evil became a story of thesis (the moon), antithesis (the parents) and synthesis (Kubo). Kubo then uses the story to transform the moon into his own image—a kind man. Kubo re-interprets his story and so re-interprets his grandfather who agreed to take part in Kubo’s story.
So the theme is not about the victory of story, but about the victory of reinterpretation. About changing the paradigm and so changing reality.
What is a child supposed to get out of this? That his parents are not what they seem; everyone has their own point of view; family is the joining of contradictions; our life is the continuing story of our parent’s lives. But I think what we can get out of it is more important. How do we interpret our lives? Rather than asking whether the interpretation is the closest one to the “truth”, rather we should ask if the interpretation is the one that benefits everyone. Is a good v. evil story really what makes unity, what makes joy for all? Or is there another way of creating a story of our lives that draws all people in?