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'Spirited Away' is a Japanese film, and is available in the UK in dubbed & subtitled versions. I saw the subtitled film and (with the exception of occasional gaps & pauses in the subtitling) I judge it to be the best animation since Akira, or possibly even Pinnoccio. The storyline is (in outline) no more incredible than most anime, but the film excels because it is bursting with unusual ideas. The imaginative imagery is wedded with fine, detailed animation and evocative music. Some parts of the film (chases/drives through foliage/flowers/within the bath-house) are exceptionally detailed and visually striking. There are (thankfully few) portions of the film soundtrack that suffer an outbreak of a Richard Clayderman-esque piano composition (IMO), but generally the sound supports the animation well and the animation was continually stimulating and moving. I give this (original film with subtitles) 9 OUT OF 10.
After all of the hype that this movie generated, I was expecting it to be overrated. However, after watching it I was pleasantly surprised. I won't deny that it's strange-- after all, it does take place in the spirit world, so how "normal" could it be? But this film has a lot to say about greed and perserverence, about friendships and hardships. Chihiro loses her parents to the spirit world because they mass-consume a feast meant for "sprit guests" like a bunch of gluttons, and are turned into pigs. Chihiro, who declined the meal, is left wandering around the spirit world, aided from time to time by a mysterious young boy named Haku who is sometimes a wolfish-looking dragon-serpent thing. She becomes a worker for this creepy old lady witch named Yubaba, and from there proves over and over that kindness and hard work will be her saviors. The animation is delicate, the colors muted and not as garish. Most anime is bizarre, and this is no exception, but it isn't hard to follow. Really it's a very moving story, great for young or old audiences. (I always prefer watching foreign films with the subtitles instead of the dubbing, and I would suggest this to anyone else wanting to watch the film, as sometimes the translations vary.)
I wouldn't go so far as to say I "followed" this but I certainly enjoyed
The world pierced right down into my subconscious and some of the images
have stayed with me for over a week now. I watched it subtitled and
it, though may have missed some of the visuals and dialogue. Those who
found the dubbed voice "uncharming" might want to check this version.
to see the dubbed version soon and will follow up with a
Masterpiece? Well, I'm not sure the plot was *all that* but the visual spectacle and the raw creativity that went into the world and characters were top notch and very refreshing. You just better pray your 10-year-old doesn't ask you questions about the film afterwards because you won't be able to come up with satisfactory answers!
There are many great messages in the film but nothing is driven home with the customary lump-hammer the American movies often use to make points on childhood, growing up, responsibility, confronting your fears, care for the environment, honour, hard work... I need to watch this again to get more from the symbols used.
You know the drill: Chihiro is a ten year old girl who gets trapped in the
world of the spirits after her parents gorge themselves on spirit food and
turn into pigs.
My two cents worth: I've noticed a lot of people discussing in their comments that the movie "doesn't feel whole" or "doesn't make sense". It has a dreamlike logic. Things that seem perfectly ordinary at the time you watch it will make no sense when you try and explain it to somebody else. (Think "Alice in Wonderland")
That having been said, this movie is completely involving and absolutely beautiful to look at. The characters, as strange as many of them are, are completely believable. It takes someone of great imagination to make a film like this, and make it work. And this coming from someone who usually can't stand what most people term "anime".
On a side note, I've noticed some parents complaining about this movie for various reasons. The box for the movie says it is rated PG. This is not a Disney PG where it's been rated for slapstick or the occasional bad word. This is a "you're insane if you're letting any little kid who can't sit still for two hours/gets scared easily/under 7 years old watch this movie" PG, kind of like Harry Potter was.
Recommendations: If you like the story of Alice in Wonderland, you'll probably like this. If you're into enthralling animated fantasy, I'd recommend "The Last Unicorn". "Flight of Dragons" is also good, but doesn't hold up as well under repeat viewings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warning: This might contain minor spoilers...
Having liked "San" (Mononoke Hime) a lot after having been dragged into I guessed I'd may appreciate "Sen" as well... Having reached my fourth decade I'm usually somewhat shy if it comes to "children's movies", but I was most pleasantly surprised. This masterpiece of imagination and inspiration offers fun and suspense to the youngest, fun and a bit to think about to the young and a springwell of fascination to about everyone else (well, judging by some of the comments displayed over here, not quite everyone...). Anyway, I'd have never thought that a movie thus laden with morals and advice might work, but it does. There's a lot to learn from it:
1. Don't be greedy. 2. Don't whine, do something instead. 3. Be kind to others. 4. You can't buy friendship. 5. If someone misbehaves, don't give him up. 6. If all else fails, an emetic might help...
I give it a 9.5/10 --- the hopping lantern was just too much for me and the all too sudden ending did leave a thing or two to be desired...
P.S.: I love Noh-Face, and that's not 'cos I habitually like tall dark strangers as one might expect! But, has anyone noticed its perfectly good manners at Zeniba's tea-party?
Wow, what a charming & heartwarming film this one is. Great family
entertainment. Good to see old fashioned hand drawn animation still in
You really develop an attachment to Sen & all of the other odd characters. Characters that you thought were bad turn out to be good & the good characters are just good! Funny & well done, a must see 8/10.
Looking at this film as an outsider, someone who knows very little about
Miyazaki's films or ANY anime film for that matter, I've got to say that I
found it to be a real breath of fresh air, and a welcome break from Disney
films. It encourages me to go out and seek more anime films, but I also
that I might be disappointed by those films if they aren't as great as
Most of the film is set in a hotel for spirits which is ruled over by an evil witch and is staffed by a variety of extremely weird, but certainly original, monsters. A young girl named Chihiro (or Sen) finds herself trapped here after her parents trespass on the property, and must work there until she can find a way to escape with them. With it's cultural sensibilities, the film at times has a harsher edge than you would expect to find in your average American cartoon, but in the end it is also extremely heart-warming.
As I'm not really familiar with Anime, the closest Western parallel I can think of would be pixar's Monsters Inc., which was similarly interesting and original. Whether or not children will understand or enjoy this film I don't know, but adults will certainly find it interesting. It's worth noting that though I've only seen the subtitled version, there is an English dubbed version also available if you do want to show it to your kids.
To design and think of all the characters in this film is sheerly masterfull. Each spirit has a unique aspect reflecting what they are and how they are different from those around them. Even the bath house workers, who are more or less one of two races of spirits, have qualities that make them individual from their peers. This is one of Hayao's greatest creations and a must see even for non-anime lovers.
The beautiful looking work of Spirited Away will catch you breathless
from the get go, but sadly the story will neither entice nor enthrall
you enough to stay focused on what's happening. The films story feels
rather surreal and incoherent, giving no indication to what and why
characters do certain actions. It also fails at being anything near
original, muddling up previously used stories and creating one big
Whilst the story of Spirited Away may be hard for some to understand, one cannot leave the film without praising the artwork. It almost makes up for a lack of a coherent storyline, but for the most part the story does leave you wanting to know more; but to know more about what's happening, not about what's going to happen.
i have always been a big fan of Japanese animation i think they are always well made....i saw the movie spirited away recently but i have to admit i have been looking for it for quite sometime ...ever since he won the Oscar for best animated movie on 2002.. the movie idea is very original i have never seen a movie like it before... its not a kids movie.. u feel that u are in a dream many different characters.. u shouldn't pay much attention to understand what are the characters or where are the events takes place.. just sit back and enjoy. disturbing sometimes..engaging most of the time..2 hours of pure entertainment..i wasn't disappointed at all... i looked for the movie because the ratings were so high every movie site i have been to has given this movie 10/10 or 5/5 if u see u will understand why the ratings are so high... simply outstanding I'm recommending it to every one to see!
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