Spirited Away (2001)
Language: Japanese/English Dub.
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast : Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki.
Streaming on Netflix.
Studio Ghibli. A name animated-movie aficionados are quite familiar with. In the animated world that has been ruled by Pixar for the past few years, Ghibli has been sidelined. But still, six of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the 10 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, with Spirited Away (2001) being the highest, grossing over US$360 million worldwide. They have also received 5 Academy Award nominations and one win.
Spirited Away (2001) from Ghibli is a fantasy animated film. It is considered as one of the finest animation features ever made and won the Academy award for the best-animated film at the 75th Academy Awards. It tells the story of a young girl Chihiro Ogino and her family. While moving to a new neighbourhood they inadvertently fall into a world of ‘kami’ which are spirits of the Japanese folklore. That is followed by a series of mishaps, as Chihiro finds her way out the mess. The movie can be only be described as a beautiful piece of art that is crafted to perfection.
The movie begins with the family’s idea to explore an amusement park. Unlike the norms, the father is the one who insists on doing so despite his daughter’s protest. Even from the start, there seems to be a mysterious air about the park. They even encounter a warning of sorts to leave the place before sunset. Paying no heed to the caution, her parents start eating from an abandoned restaurant stocked with fresh delicious food. Something really shocking happens and forms the rest of the story. Hayao Miyazaki has said that this movie was created for 10-year-old girls and that is one reason why the movie resonates well with a wide range of people making the viewers’ feel that Chihiro is real.
As critic Roger Ebert pointed out in his review of the film, each frame is made with an overwhelming amount of “generosity and love.” The blend spiritual, the realistic, the fantastic, and the human are flawless and balanced.
Even after 19 years of its release, the film is widely discussed and appreciated. The film stands as testimony to the fact that animated movies are not restricted to children or a particular age group. Films like these attempt deeper and more nuanced emotional exploration than certain live-action movies. The narratives, themes and ideas involved may even require a rewatch to comprehend completely, especially in the case of Spirited Away. Spirited Away in the years to come will certainly have its position in the history of films, and this is recommended to one and all irrespective of whether you are an animated fan or not.
Verdict: 6/7 Stars.