As it turns out, the movie was Kondô's only feature film as director. He went to work at Studio Ghibli in 1987. After "Whisper of the Heart," he was expected to take over the studio when Miyazaki retired. But Kondô died suddenly in 1998, at the age of 47.
The movie he made, though, lives on. It involves a young girl named Shizuku whose love of books leads her to forge a friendship with a boy, and eventually she learns both about her innate talent for writing and about the nature of true love. Oh, and a magic cat and an old violin maker and Italy play parts in the story, too.
"Like its characters," wrote film critic Christopher Runyon, "the film's horizons expand further as it progresses, creating an all-encompassing portrait of childhood dreams & the sacrifices we make to commit to them."
"Whisper of the Heart" will play at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at two area Regal Cinemas theaters, Northtown Mall and Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone Stadium, and at AMC River Park Square. Monday's screening will be dubbed in English, while Tuesday's screening will be in the original Japanese (and subtitled in English).
The actors from the English version are Brittany Snow (Shizuku), David Gallagher, Jean Smart, James Sikking and Cary Elwes.