Chihiro and her parents are moving to a small Japanese town in the countryside, much to Chihiro's dismay. On the way to their new home, Chihiro's father makes a wrong turn and drives down a lonely one-lane road which dead-ends in front of a tunnel. Her parents decide to stop the car and explore the area. They go through the tunnel and find an abandoned amusement park on the other side, with its own little town. When her parents see a restaurant with great-smelling food but no staff, they decide to eat and pay later. However, Chihiro refuses to eat and decides to explore the theme park a bit more. She meets a boy named Haku who tells her that Chihiro and her parents are in danger, and they must leave immediately. She runs to the restaurant and finds that her parents have turned into pigs. In addition, the theme park turns out to be a town inhabited by demons, spirits, and evil gods. At the center of the town is a bathhouse where these creatures go to relax. The owner of the bathhouse ...Written by
Ranked number 37 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018. See more »
The smudge on Chihiro's face changes shape, switches sides, and disappears at random during the first 40 minutes of the movie. See more »
[reading a card]
I'll miss you, Chihiro. Your best friend, Rumi.
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The credits have a series of still images from the film. The last image before the film fades is Chihiro's shoe in the river. See more »
Various dialog is added to the English dub to explain settings, translate Japanese text, or traditions; for example, when Chihiro first sees the bathhouse, in the English dub, she says "It's a bathhouse", which isn't present in the Japanese version. See more »
In Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated feature, `Spirited Away,' a young girl by the name of Chihiro and her parents stumble across an abandoned `amusement park' that turns out to be a mysterious bathhouse for the spirit world (a la `Carnival of Souls'). After her parents are turned into pigs, the young girl must infiltrate the bathhouse to find a way to make them human again. Chihiro encounters an amazing array of strange and exotic creatures abiding there, some of whom help her in her quest and some of whom don't.
No one would ever deny the visual splendor and wealth of imagination that have gone into the look of this film. The animators have created an entire world filled with inhabitants that defy description. Moreover, the elegance of the backgrounds and the fluidity of the movement provide some of the best work in those areas that animation has ever offered. One appreciates the effort, especially in this day and age when imagination in movies is at such a premium. Therefore, I feel like a bit of an ingrate pointing out that `Spirited Away' might actually have been a somewhat better film had the filmmakers opted for a little LESS imagination in favor of a little more discipline in the storytelling. The filmmakers are so busy trying to dazzle us with their creativity that we end up with more characters and subplots than the film can reasonably cope with. The story often feels arbitrary in nature, with events that seem unrelated to each other vying for our attention just so we can be impressed with how creative everyone is trying to be. The film seems to ramble for a good part of the time, and we find ourselves yearning for a tighter, more streamlined narrative to help keep us involved. In addition, there's a certain lack of logic that runs through most of the film, making us question why certain characters do what they do. For instance, why would a bunch of spirits be so concerned with eating, sleeping, making money, riding trains, etc.? The rules of this world don't seem to be laid down rigorously enough for us to understand what it's all supposed to be about.
I don't want to sound like a total curmudgeon in criticizing a film that, apparently, many people, including innumerable critics, have hailed as a masterpiece. And I do concede that `Spirited Away' has moments of great beauty and charm to more than compensate for its rather slow pacing and excessive length. A haunting trip on a ghostly train is, perhaps, the highlight of the film, a transcendent moment that hints at how great the rest of the film could have been had its makers not felt the need to pad out the story so consistently. Chihiro is a spunky, poignant and noble heroine, and a few of the other characters are compelling as well.
`Spirited Away' offers much for the audience to gape and marvel at, but it lacks the drama to make us really care.
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