Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
“It was just too bizarre.“
“Honestly, when I watched Spirited Away for the first time back in 2008, I didn’t like it for the same reason as you. I just found it too weird.”
–IMDB message board dissenters on Spirited Away
DIRECTED BY: Hayao Miyazaki
FEATURING: Voices of Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki; Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette (English dub)
PLOT: While moving to a new town, ten-year-old Chihiro and her parents take a detour to a seemingly abandoned amusement park in rural Japan. Once the sun sets, the park transforms into an otherworldly resort for spirits and gods overseen by the cruel witch Yubaba. Now separated from her parents, Chihiro must learn to survive among an array of weird creatures as she attempts to reunite her family and return home.
- Hayao Miyazaki had announced his retirement from feature filmmaking in 1998, after completing Princess Mononoke. He came out of retirement in 2001 to make Spirited Away.
- Disney Studios had distributed Studio Ghibli’s previous film, Princess Mononoke, in the United States, with disappointing results. They put little money into marketing the film, but strong reviews and word of mouth turned it into a hit, and Disney’s partnership with Ghibli was cemented from that point on.
- Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (along with 52 wins granted by other organizations).
- Spirited Away is the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan.
- Hayao Miyazaki had announced his retirement from feature filmmaking in 2001, after completing Spirited Away. He came out of retirement in 2004 to make Howl’s Moving Castle.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Lured into the park by a delicious scent, Chihiro’s parents come upon a vacant restaurant filled with sumptuous, exotic dishes. The two immediately begin to fill their plates, ignoring their daughter’s worries that they’ll be punished for taking the food. After the park begins its transformation, Chihiro returns to find her parents bloated and hunched over piles of scraps. She tries to warn her father about what is happening, but when he looks at her she sees only the sweating, engorged face of a pig. The grunting pig ignores Chihiro and climbs over the restaurant’s counter, only to be swatted away by an unseen figure’s reptilian arm. The pig then crashes to the ground with a primal squeal, frightening Chihiro as she cries out for her parents and runs into a street filled with tall, anonymous ghosts.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Pig parents; “No Face” eats; three heads and a giant baby
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: In Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki plays on the normal fears of lost children as the basis for an outlandish, frightening fantasy about a young girl being thrust into the incomprehensible life of an adult. The imagination of the setting is so immense that it seems to dwarf the film itself, suggesting a fully realized universe of magic and monsters with borders that extend far beyond the frame of the story.
Disney Trailer for Spirited Away
COMMENTS: Spirited Away begins with the main character, Chihiro, Continue reading 222. SPIRITED AWAY (2001)