Spirited Away (2001)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 5:34 PM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 9.7/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 8/10

SPIRITED AWAY (2001) - Hayao Miyazaki

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation and film studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, both are amazing directors. Simply put, Studio Ghibli is the Japanese hand-drawn version of Disney's Pixar. Miyazaki is the most well-known director in this studio. He was most renowned for his endless amount of creativity and imagination. He created a world of giant mutant insects in Nausica√§ of the Valley of the Wind. He built a floating castle in Castle in the Sky. He created one of the most memorable anime creatures in modern society in My Neighbor Totoro. He chronicled the experience of a young witch in Kiki's Delivery Service, the experience of an Italian WWI fight ace in Porco Rosso, and the journey of a prince in a magical forest in Princess Mononoke. And now, he has taken our familiar tale of Alice in Wonderland and produced one of the most creative animated films ever made: Spirited Away.

Spirited Away follows ten-year-old Chihiro Ogino who, while moving to a new neighborhood, becomes trapped in an alternate world inhabited by spirits and monsters. After her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba's bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and escape back to the human world.

Without question, the first thing that stands out in Spirited Away is its aesthetically hand-drawn animation. To this day, it is the first and only hand-drawn animated film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The animation is dazzling, extremely colorful, and amazing to look at. With the help of Miyazaki's imagination, the world of magical creatures range from simple talking frogs to wandering transparent ghosts. In fact, every time you re-watch the film, you are guaranteed to find something new in the image. There is an endless spectrum of extraordinary wonders throughout Spirited Away and is arguably the strong point of the entire movie.

However, the creativity of the film is also its weakness. In spite of its countless amount of visionary monsters, there is simply too much of them. Despite the film being designed to impress the eye, the inventiveness blinds the eye from seeing the actual storyline. Though I am not criticizing the plot on its own, I am criticizing the narrative, the pacing and execution of the plot. Overall, it is well-crafted, however there are too many elements that distract the viewers from the entire crux of the film. Halfway in, I forgot that Chihiro was trying to get back home. At the same time, I forgot caring about her as well, overly occupied with the wonders of Miyazaki's astonishing mind. Nevertheless, the list of characters are captivating and entertaining enough to push the tale forward. The dialogue is smart with an amusing atmosphere throughout and the film in its entirety still bears magnificent entertainment.

The most common viewpoint on the Studio Ghibli franchise is "Spirited Away is the greatest film of them all." Though I adore the innovation of the Oscar-winner, I strongly oppose this opinion. Spirited Away is a great film, but its avoidance of simplicity prevents me from selecting this as the best. Simplicity is the greatest storytelling form of engagement. Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro and Castle in the Sky both excelled this field. With their narratives intelligently executed, they are superior to Spirited Away. However, based on imagination, Spirited Away takes the cake.

In conclusion, Spirited Away is one of the most imaginative movies I have ever seen. The animation is breathtaking and gorgeous to look at, the characters lovable, and the inventiveness astounding. Though its premise appears similar to Alice in Wonderland or even The Wizard of OzSpirited Away has combined the simple idea of "girl lost in another world" with Japanese culture and created a richly visual film. Even though the narrative lost its way similar to Chihiro halfway in, Spirited Away, without question, will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. Like the critics' consensus, "[Spirited Away] will leave viewers a little more curious and fascinated by our world."


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