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Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Japan 1979
produced by
Tetsuo Katayama, Yutaka Fujioka (executive) for Tokyo Movie Shinsha
directed by Hayao Miyazaki
screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki, Haruya Yamazaki, based on a manga by Monkey Punch, music by Yuji Ono

Lupin III

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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After master thief Lupin & his right hand man Jigen have robbed a casino but had to find out all their loot - a carload of money, actually - is just counterfeit money, Lupin decides to go after the source of it all, as a sort of revenge, which turns out to be the Alpine Duchy Cagliostro, an idyllic miniature state set somewhere in central Europe.

However, Lupin & jigen are hardly in Cagliostro when they are dragged into a carchase involving a carload of armed bullies & a beautiful girl in her weddibng gown. Needless to say that Lupin immeduiately falls for her & saves her from her pursuers, but no sooner has he done that does he lose her again.

It turns out the girl was Clarisse, daughter to the deceased king & queen, & rightful heir to the throne, who is supposed to be married off to the evil Count, interim regent of Cagliostro. & when Lupin sees the girl dragged off to the castle again, he makes it his mission to save her, his only joker's card being a seal ring Clarisse dropped when he helped her escape - which the Count desperately needs to unearth the treasure of Cagliostro - whatever that is.

But Castle Cagliostro is heavily guarded, not only by palace guardsbut also by cameras, loaser beams & heat detectors, so Lupin decides to inform his arch-enemy, inspector Zenigata, about his whereabouts, so the policeman can become his unwilling accomplice by creating a little diversion.

The plan works fine & thanks to Zenigata Lupin can soon enter the princess' room/prison in a high tower, where he is caught by the Duke though & thrown into the dungeon, where the regents of Cagliostro have kept & starved those they wanted to get rid of for centuries. But it's thanks to Lupin's inventiveness, the fact that he still holds the ring, and a little help from Zenigata, who was thrown into the dungeon as well, that Lupin gets out again, & he & Zenigata even find the counterfeiting factory beneath the castle & burn all the faked money kept there to create more diversion.

When Lupin, Zenigata & Fujiko - an international spy they have met along the way - want to escape with Clarisse by helicopter though, everything does not go quite as planned when the helicopter is shot down by the Count & his palace guards. With the help of Zenigata & Fujiko, Lupin manages to escape badly wounded, but the princess has to stay behind.

While Lupin is still recovering from his wounds, preparations for the wedding of the Count & Clarisse get into the final phase, & it's only thanks to Fujiko that everybody gets there at the proper time in the proper disguise & gets what he/she wants: She manages for Lupin to enter the castle disguised as the arch-bishop who is to wed the couple, while she puts Zenigata onto Lupin's trail again after he has become disillusioned when he was forbidden to pursue the counterfeit money case any further because of diplomatic restrictions. Fujiko herself comes as part of a camera-team, to cause some havoc on her own.

& everything seems to run smoothly, after Lupin has helped Clarisse to escape again, Fujiko follows Zenigata to the counterfeiting factory with her tv camera & broadcasts his findings live on international TV, finally bringing that case to public attention.

The only thing missing now is the final showdown between Lupin & the Count, which takes place in the gigantic clockworks of the castle's clocktower, & it ends with ... the Count winning, not only does he manage to push Lupin & Clarisse off the tower - though they take the fall rather lightly, ending up not injured at all - he also manages to finally get Clarisse's seal ring & with it access to the treasure - which turns out to be not quite what he has expected, since that results in the immediate collapse of the clocktower (& thus his death) & most of Cagliostro to be flooded by the water from the country's reservoir - which reveals to have hidden an antique Roman city.

All's well that ends well, but will Lupin now stay with Clarisse ?

No way, he has just time enough to say hjer good bye before making an escape from the approaching Zenigata & his police squad ...


This movie was based on the popular comicbook series by Monkey Punch, which also spawned 2 tv-series & another animated movie back in the 70's (& many more movies & series since), while it in turn was based on the popular French Arsène Lupin-novels by Maurice Leblanc. However, no knowledge of either the comics or the tv series or the movies is necessary to understand The Castle of Cagliostro, a movie that is of a charming & infectuous carelessness & inventiveness rarely found in movies essentially since the heyday of the serial. Here, elements from genres as different as science fiction, caper-movie, fairy tale, ninja movie & comedy are thrown together to form an unique & extremely entertaining blend that immediately sucks the viewer into the proceedings.& spins its tale in a highly original way.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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