The car chase: the most celebrated sequence of Hayao Miyazaki’s Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. Well-staged, thrilling, and funny, it’s one of the film’s highlights, that’s for sure.
Here are John Lasster’s thoughts on the sequence from his forward to Miyazaki’s Starting Point (a book you should read if you’re an animation fanatic or even a cinephile in general):
“There’s a term that a certain studio executive used when he sensed a movie was starting to slow down. He’d say, ‘I’m going for popcorn.’ He felt that unless a movie raced nonstop to its conclusion, an audience would inevitably lose interest. I totally disagree with him. Things don’t need to be faster all the time. That’s one way Miyazaki-san’s films, especially My Neighbor Totoro, have inspired me. His movies have balance – both fast and slow moments. You can even go back to The Castle of Cagliostro and see it. The car chase up the hill is still one of my favorite scenes. Just before the chase, Lupin’s car gets a flat tire and swerves to the side of the road. He climbs up on the roof and just sits there looking up at the sky. The clouds are going by, the wind is blowing, we’re shown a field of grass… and then you hear this GHEEEEE sound. Miyazaki-san allows Lupin to react with a “What was that?” look before a car roars past him. It sets up the chase so beautifully because of the quiet moment right before. That’s pacing.”
I only wish modern filmmakers felt the same way.