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Personally, I've never seen anything as original in an animated film as
in this deeply mythical fairytale. What a surreal idea for a movie!
It's hard to find an adequate description (because I also don't want to
spoil this in the slightest way) but this film has a sense of
'otherness' to it - for lack of a better word - like none I've ever
seen. And the strange, mythical nature of this film - apart from the
amazing artwork - is probably one of the main reasons for its appeal to
Maybe the themes of the story don't feel quite as strange to an eastern audience because they fit to a certain degree with some eastern/Asian mythologies - to me, this beautiful piece of wonder was something new. And a profoundly moving experience.
Outstanding animation; funny, weird, scary and touching at the same time, this unique work of art is one I can't recommend enough. 10 out of 10.
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
I have given movies 10 out 10 stars before, but this just crosses a
completely new line into something even above 100% greatness;
perfection. This may be the only film I have ever seen that is
completely perfect, I would change absolutely nothing about it. The
only other film that I would put over the top is, coincedentally, My
Neighbor Totoro. The fact that the are made by the same company has
nothing to do with it.
Whenever I watch this movie, not only do I find things that I didn't notice the time before, but I feel a sense of having already seen certain things in it before, somewhere else. But I haven't - it is just the originality, and the new ideas that other movies will build on from this one. Everything is perfect. The illustrations are detailed, flowing, and mesmerizing. The musical score is dead-on, and sneaks along in the background for most of the running. And the story takes on a form that I am attempting to do in my first work - complete layers. Two people could watch this, and come away with different ideas and plot lines. This is exactly what a movie should do, keep everyone that sees it thinking about it afterwards. There is no definite ending or beginning, it is left purely to the imagination.
The entire film seems like just a slice of someone's imagination, and when I watch it, I consider it mine.
My previous experience with Studio Ghibli began and ended with 'My
Neighbour Totoro' but upon seeing the fantastic 'Spirited Away', I feel
as if a whole new world of anime and Hayao Miyazaki has just opened up
to me. Until now, apart from the odd Disney flick and, of course, 'My
Neighbour Totoro', I had long consigned animation to childhood but this
film is a perfect example of how how rich and diverse even an animated
film can be.
'Spirited Away' centres on ten-year-old Chihiro, a little Japanese girl who accidentally stumbles upon the Spirit World while exploring a mysterious passageway with her parents. When her parents are turned into pigs for stealing food, it falls to young Chirhiro and Haku, her guide in this strange new world, to save them before they become bacon. Not only are the characters well-depicted and engaging (with a few adorable little creatures added in to gush over!) but the story is very involving. During Chihiro's quest, not only do we see she and Haku grew as characters but we learn much about Japanese mythology and the moral of how not everything is as it seems. The atmospheric and other-worldly quality of the film leaves the audience feeling as if they too have joined the young heroine in this strange new land where the impossible seems possible.
Although this film will no doubt appeal to young children who will easily identify with Chihiro, there is a dark air to 'Spirited Away' that will draw in teenagers and adults. Certainly, older viewers will be left awe-struck by the intelligence and strength of the plot and the characters. Highly recommended to anime fans and those who are just looking for a film that is unique and interesting.
Seldom have I seen a movie full of such boundless fantasy, incredible
beauty and opulent pictures. Miyazaki presents the story of Chihiro who
has to rescue her parents from the spell of a witch in fantasy world
with such extravagant richness that stuns the spectator.
Granted the story about this fantasy world with all kinds of exceptionally weird creatures and situations takes needs getting used to at first. But very soon the spectator is totally engrossed by the magical story and overwhelming pictures.
In view of the diversity of bizarre creatures, the filmmaker's creativity seems almost unlimited. The beautiful pictures have a very soothing and at the same time enthusiastic effect onto the spectator.
But the brilliance of the movie doesn't only result from the beauty of the pictures, the story itself is very subtle and profound. In short, it is a story about growing-up. Chihiro and her parents are on their way to their new home in the suburbs when they accidentally step into a magical world, where Chihiro's parents are transformed into pigs. From now on, Chihiro has to manage everything by herself. She has to attempt to turn her parents back into humans and is confronted with situations and characters that don't coincidentally seem like metaphors of our world. Now, Chihiro learns how to solve problems herself and how to deal with the characters of the people she meets. At the end, Chihiro has turned into a almost mature person.
Although occidental spectator won't be able to understand all symbolisms that are conveyed by the characters, but there's is actually no need of it. The fantastic world and its creatures perfectly work as a scenery for a wonderful coming-of-age story.
The wonderful, as customary for composer Joe Hisaishi, music adds even more magical beauty to the scenery.
As the rest of the Western world was amazed by the throngs of CGI animation,
and the inside Disney jokes, Japanese audiences were given a chance to see
what real animation was like. This movie was the first foreign film which
grossed over 200 million dollars before it came over the US shores. It had
beaten Pixar's Ice Age and Disney's Lilo and Stitch to get Best Animated
Feature. Yet with all these facts and figures shown to us, does this movie
live up to its hype. In a one word answer, YES!
However there is no point of handing out the superlatives to a movie, without explaining what the movie is all about. In a nutshell, the movie is about a ten year old girl who is travels to a strange yet enchanting world, after her parents were morphed into pigs. This change of shape was produced by the evil witch, Yubaba, an nasty sorceress who rules over this paralell universe. To avoid detection, the ten year old girl, Chihiro has to work for Yubaba in her bath house. This is where she meets all kind of strange and wonderful characters, like the half man half spider Kamaiji, the mysterious little boy, Haku and many other characters. Though Chihiro had met all these people, her only wish is to go home and turn her parents back to their normal human selves.
Watching this movie, has made me wonder why is this feature shown in very small arthouse cinemas and it is on pirate DVDs, when it should be easily shown on the multiplex cinemas. This is a truly amazing movie, whereby the whole story, transports oneself to their earlier childhood. I know that happened to me. Also the movie's animation was totally amazing, in ways that Pixar and Dreamworks would just die for. A good example of this is the flower scene.
In conclusion, everyone should watch this movie, whether young or old, japanese or any other nationality, because at the end of the day, this will show you emotions that any other animations will not give you the chance to show.
It is so ironically tragic that many great movies such as Hayao
Miyazaki's Spirited Away are often overlooked by the public, suggesting
that commercialism is the way of reflecting the possibility of
achieving blockbuster status in the box-office, even as if most of
these recycled products receive poor reviews (remember Shark Tale? It's
horribly cliché but millions of viewers still watch it). Is it because
of technology that drives its influence to the public without providing
any necessity that is its substance? Or is it because Spirited Away is
considered another ordinary 2D cartoon that should be suitable for
little children and not the rest of us? Sadly, this is reality and we
all see as it is right now (providing that we live in a topsy-turvy
world with unfair paradoxes) but it doesn't mean that Miyazaki's
masterpiece has a chance to change our reflections on life. In fact,
there are doses of good reasons on why this movie is so special to us,
aside from its family-friendly context.
Hayao Miyazaki, who has directed many of the most acclaimed animated movies in animation history (under the banner of Studio Ghibli), has stated that Spirited Away is 'for the people who used to be ten years old and the people who are going to be ten years old'. Perhaps, he really knows how children see things in their own eyes, as he might use to face during his childhood times (that's why most of his movies feature flying ships/creatures, tons of imaginative elements derived from Asian/Western cultures, some preferences from classic fairy tales, etc.) Most importantly, Mr. Miyazaki uses this tagline as an essential plot device to show the innocence, the bizarre, the horror and the wondrous revelation that the main protagonist (Chihiro) sees, feels and experiences throughout her spiritual journey, a path that we all had crossed as children before the madness of the world overwhelms our innocence. Fortunately, movies like Spirited Away succeeds in regaining our former consciousness, pulling us into his imaginative world where our childhood memories have never died; they are merely hidden inside our hearts and Mr. Miyazaki is enable to reshape them with everything this movie has to offer.
Instead of the cliché-ridden plots that mar state-of-the-art-animated films of today, Mr. Miyazaki refers to his personal experience in Japan as another plot device while maintaining the classic storytelling technique to create an entirely refreshing concept based on real-life situations. If you think Spirited Away features some of the most incomprehensibly bizarre characters you've never seen, fear not! Like all good movies, despite their oddity, they all are no different from us in terms of how they adapt to life and their functions to keep the company going. That also leads to the fact that Spirited Away is really not a good vs. evil show (like Star Wars); despite its scary images, powerful spells and evil-looking monsters, they are all surprisingly ordinary with mere characteristics of maids, bosses and customers. So don't expect a Darth Vader-like antagonist to cover the whole world with darkness while unleashing a large army of robotic troopers to destroy everything in their sights.
The overall animation is simply breathtaking. Even as they are all hand-drawn, the characters' expressions and body postures are all wonderfully done in a very natural way, the same applies to these beautiful background settings painted painstakingly by some of Ghibli's most talented artists in Japan. Speaking of animation, when watching it up close and personal, it does bear some resemblance to Disney's Snow White as well as his classic movies (unlike the new, recycled Disney movies of the early 2000s) in terms of its cel-shaded look and the way most characters move and interact (strangely, though, Mr. Miyazaki is not a big fan of Disney. Ironically, Disney is the only company that understands his movies' significance to moviegoers around the world, so it serves as a distributor to Ghibli's animated movies in North America.). Unlike most current anime that requires CGI to excite the audience, Mr. Miyazaki fortunately decides not to rely much on fancy digital applications (there are some subtle CGI effects, which are cleverly implemented on certain parts of the movie).
Disney, in its other matter, has done a good job in translating the movie's original Japanese context to its English counterpart without radically changing the flow and theme of its entire story, thanks to Pixar animator and executive producer John Lasseter (however, Disney's marketing power fails to attract more moviegoers). Despite the audience's varied reactions on English and Japanese tracks, in my opinion, I find both of them outstanding and seem to have a natural pattern to influence the mood of the movie. Once again, Joe Hisashi, the composer of many of Miyazaki's movies, has provided some of the finest and most memorable cues ever to bring grace to the screens (one of my personal favorite is a cue in which Haku finally remembers his original name, shedding its scales in the sky). Without these important audio elements, Spirited Away could have been another uninspiring, lifeless show.
It is no doubt that Spirited Away has indeed changed the way we look at animated movies, similar to the way the original Star Wars trilogy, the first two Godfather movies and films by Steven Spielberg did. It is also true that whatever I write in this review, a single picture tells a thousand words; you still need to watch it with your own eyes, feel it as you are still a child and you will understand a thousand reasons why this movie should receive an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. However, like many artistic filmmakers, Mr. Miyazaki is not interested in such glamorous spotlights and moneymaking propaganda, as he continues to inspire newer generations with his latest waves of masterpieces, starting with Howl's Moving Castle.
Thank you, Mr. Miyazaki for proving once again that childhood memories will forever endure within our hearts and souls until the end of time.
Upon hearing that this became Japan's highest grossing film ever, I
went out of my way to look for a theater that had this movie here in
the states. I traveled some, paid top dollar for the ticket, and, after
seeing it, was totally blown away by the experience I had. I had no
doubt in my mind that I have seen the best movie of the year, and quite
possibly the best animated movie I have EVER seen.
The story starts with a young girl named Chihiro, and her family, moving to a new place. When they wander into what seems like an abandoned theme park and her parents start to eat prepared food (but with no one around to attend them), they turn into pigs. Chihiro runs and encounters a bathhouse for the gods and spirits. With the help of a young boy named Haku, Chihiro learns that in order to reverse the effects of her parents dilemma, she must work in the bathhouse. Life isn't easy, not even for the gods. She'll come across bizarre creatures & places. She will learn hard work, the sense of loss, greed, & the importance of friendship and love.
It's dreamy-like quality, it gorgeous scenes, and it's incredible list of characters (frogs that talk, a dragon, a baby that is 12 feet tall, a multi-armed boiler-room man) will keep you glued to the story.
Children will love this film, yet it is sophisticated enough for adults to enjoy and relish in it's beauty. It does have it's scary bits and images, however, so very young children may be frightened. But this is still the type of movie that you go out and buy, even if you don't have children. So imaginative is the world that Chihiro falls in, thoughts of 'Alice in Wonderland' & 'The Wizard of Oz' may come to mind. But 'Spirited Away' ends up with it's own originality. It's a timeless piece, and will eventually be a classic that will no doubt be shown to generations.
In the DVD, Disney made sure that the voice acting for the English version is top-notch, but, even if you don't liked dubbing, you have the option to switch to Japanese with subtitles.
How could 'Spirited Away' become the first anime film to be nominated for, AND WIN an Academy Award? How did it gross $200 million before it even came to the states? The answer lies in mastermind creator Hayao Miyazaki. So well known in Japan, he is now getting the recognition he deserves internationally. With past hits like Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki and his studio, Ghibli, have created outstanding features that very few animation studios can even match. Their movies are hand-drawn, without all the CGI that many studios are using. Amid the fact that Disney has distributed these treasures, I would say that there isn't much in the Disney vaults that can even come close to matching what Miyazaki and his studio have produced.
Do not hesitate to watch this magical, enchanting, and rare gem that we have the privilege to see. And if you have seen it, go out of your way to view the rest of Miyazaki's films, like 'Nausicaa', 'Castle in the Sky', & 'Kiki's Delivery Service'.
Undeniably a perfect 10 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi' is a cute story from a little girl
called Chihiro, who is moving with her parents to a new place in the
suburbs. During the travel,her father decides to take a shortcut along
a lonely road. After getting out of the car and walking along a path
for a while, they look to an abandoned city and stop in an abandoned
restaurant full of food. Chihiro's mother and dad don't think twice and
start to eat the food there, what Chihiro refuses to do. The night
falls and that abandoned city become full of strange beings and
spirits, and when Chihiro runs to her parents to go out of that place
she discovers that they become pigs. A mysterious boy called Haku helps
her and explains the situation to her,saying that she needs to get a
job in the spa hotel for spirits and gods from Japan. The work is hard,
but Chihiro does well. The problem now is to find a way to break the
spell of her parents and go out from that strange ghost city...
This anime is very different from the animes I already watched. The story is very touching and truly unique, with another world inside the world we know. I would love to watch an anime series based in chihiro's life in the ghost's world. Hayao Miyazaki has my profound admiration, specially because ''Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi'''is not the only movie he did that I love: I also enjoy a lot ''My Neighbor Totoro ''. Of course that I think that this movie is totally worthy of the Oscar it received. By the way, the idea that Chihiro and Haku could forever stay in Yubaba's possession if they forget their real identities is very interesting to me,since it is a reality: if you loose your identity and forgets who you really are, your interests and your focus, you become lost in the world. The maturity of Chihiro is another easy thing to see, and adds another interesting understanding of the story.
I have seen many anime movies made by Hayao Miyazaki, such as PRINCESS
MONONOKE, NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND, LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY,
etc. He's movies are all very meaningful and there's no word to
describe how I feel watching these movies! He's just that good. While
FEW PEOPLE may think it's not a good movie, it's only because they
don't understand it. They have no clue about Japanese culture and they
aren't very open-minded about it either. After seening all these anime
movies, my desire to know everything about Japanese only increases.
All Miyazaki's films are wonderful and special, and each of them have deep meanings which only those who try to see it will understand the point of the movies.
Spirited Away has colorful, and extremely detailed arts in it, and the characters and their actions made them seem so real! It is a movie about how an immature, ten-year-old girl who, by accident, got into the spirit world with her parents, whom are turned into pigs because of greed. In order to save them, she must become a worker in the bathhouse for Gods. Throughout the movie, you meet interesting and fun characters, such as the tiny dust balls, they're just so cute! Chihiro, the little girl, must learn to be strong in order to survive and rescue her parents with the help of a dragon boy, Haku. The movie is really wonderful and I have seen it many times.
I'm really sad to hear from some people that he's not going to produce any of his own anime films any longer. (They are so good!) I really appreciated all his works, and I feel so lucky to get to see many of his movies! May Studio Ghibli live on forever!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, or Spirited Away as the name is
translated, is probably the best animated movie I've seen for a while.
Summary of the story: Young girl Chihiro is is moving with her parents, when they stop for a while at place, which her father describes as old amusement park. But soon it is visible, that this place is no ordinary amusement park. When sun sets Chihro's parents turn into pigs and spirits, ghosts and ancient gods start to roam around in a place ruled by old witch Yubaba. Chihiro must rescue her parents and herself from eternal slavery in Yubaba's bath house.
Not your typical Disney cartoon. And that is a compliment. No ready chewed, easy to point up moral codes, but more real grip from things. A line between good and bad is very vague line. Is Yuababa really a evil witch or is she just greedy old woman, who can learn from her mistakes? Do all bad deeds bring more sorrow, or can they sometimes bring something good? Chihiro grows, really grows during the story. She begins from a wimpy little girl and ends up to be brave, selfless girl, who ends up saving more --hmmm-- I think entities would be proper word in this case.
But Chihiro is not the only one growing during the story, there is also a nameless spirit named no-face, who ends up finding peace thanks to Chihiro.
There is also a young boy, Yubaba's apprentice Haku, who doesn't know who he really is. Yubaba is using Haku as a tool against her twin sister Zeniba.
It is rare, that a single movie contains so much material. It is even more rare to see animated movies with such depth.
Also for the acting, it's top notch, as is the animation. All backgrounds and characters are done with detail and passion.
I really feel, that this is one of those must see movies for all animation fans.
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