18 December, 2014

Spirited Away(2001)

The ANU film group solicited short reviews for the semester 2, 2014 programme. This is my review of Spirited Away for them. I was a bit short of time and phone it in (which is even more of a tragedy as it seems this was a popular film lots of people wanted to review).

If you’re unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli films and the anime works of writer/director Hayao Miyazaki, this is a really good a place to start. This is the story of Chihiro, a typically sulky young girl, reluctantly moving with her parents to a new town. After getting lost, they stumble into a surreal realm of spirits. There’s a plot here about saving her parents (Who’ve turned into pigs in the meantime, BTW.) and escaping, but to be honest, it’s really just a framework to hang some visually amazing scenes and imagery from while maintaining a detached, whimsical tone.
There are giant-headed witches, chinese-style dragons, a spider-armed boiler man, a trio of disembodied green heads rolling about the place and so much more. These simultaneously cute, amusing and slightly grotesque creatures are very reminiscent of the earlier My Neighbor Totoro (2001) (Even down to the soot creatures). The film has the typically shallow-perspective used in a lot of anime and Miyazaki films in particular.

This is certainly worthwhile film to see for the imagery and the somewhat unnecessary plot in no way detracts from that. If this is your first Ghibli film and you like it, there are many more you’ll be lining-up to see such-as Porco Rosso (1992), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Princess Mononoke (1997) and Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986).