• A Tree of Palme


    published in Empire No.65, Sydney


    An inordinate amount of anime has referenced the tale of Pinocchio. For the Japanese, it's a meta-work on puppets, as their cultural interest in mannequins and figurines is a long-standing fixture in their popular entertainment. A Tree of Palme's most notable replication is its Japanese versioning of Pinocchio. The titular Palme is a mechanical robot carved of a mystical wood. Originally designed to care for the terminally-ill Xian by her husband, Palme has become lifeless after her death. The film follows the complex means by which Palme is re-animated, and how he cosmically re-unites with her spirit. In the process, he connects with street urchins of The Below and the parentally-abused Soma, and ventures with them toward the sacred domain of Tama.

    It is this multi-planed interconnectivity between the living and the departed that makes A Tree of Palme a complex philosophical work - ideal for those seeking something beyond the simplistic 'hero's journey' bandied about in much fantasy cinema these days. With far greater attraction, A Tree of Palme uncompromisingly details the often-contradictory psychological make-up of its characters, making this no mere light-hearted 'team spirit' adventure. Bleakness, hopelessness and emotional destitution flow through the story's veins - all the while rendered with powerful humanist composure and breathtaking surreal landscapes.

    Threading delicate and beautiful lines of reference through 70s fantasy/sci-fi artwork into various 90s anime titles exploring eco-themes, A Tree of Palme is a work rich with thematic echoes and narrative allusions. Not ssurprisingly, the shadow of Miyazaki leans across the film, but it is no less an amazing work for bearing its influences. Replete with a scintillating score evoking the epic sweep of Stravinsky and numerous visually poetic moments that linger well past an initial viewing, the exquisite audio-visual meld of A Tree of Palme is an outstanding example of visionary anime.