This review has been written on a special demand by our friend from Indonesia Evan Pangaribuan.
Year of Release: 2001
Chihiro Ogino is a little girl who is moving to a new city with her parents. While on their way to their new home, her father takes a shortcut through the hills and the family finds itself in an abandoned theme park. On exploring it they come across a restaurant with no attendants or customers but the aroma of the food compels Chihiro’s parents to feast upon it. Chihiro however refuses to have the food and sets out to explore the park. While on a bridge she meets a boy who gets disturbed by her presence and asks her to rush back before it gets dark. Nonetheless, it’s already time for the sunset and as she gets back to her parents, she finds them in the form of pigs with spooky creatures all around.
What is Chihiro gonna do now? What happened to her parents and how did they transform into pigs? Who was that guy and why did Chihiro’s presence disturb him?
What I liked/loved about the film: –
If you go through the film and analyse its storyline, you realise how so much of intricacies have been bundled up in just a 2 hours’ runtime. Spirited Away doesn’t have a straightforward story but the way it has been thought of and executed is highly commendable. The writing of the film by Hayao Miyazaki is first rate not just because of the wonderful plotline but also due to its setting, backdrops and character development. Even as the director, Miyazaki takes care of the most minute details which might skip the attention of the viewers. The film is beautiful from its head to its tail, to even its most eensy-weensy elements! It’s so well-crafted that none of its subplots seem excessive or worthlessly added and almost all of them make sense in some way or the other by falling into their right places as the story progresses. The movie’s richness lies in its philosophical overtones which celebrate love, forgiveness and friendship in their best possible forms. The love between Chihiro and Haku is the highlight of the film not just because of its charm and simplicity but also because it’s purity i.e. it’s devoid of any form of infatuation or sexual attraction. Spirited Away was probably fashioned as a children’s movie and it largely is, but it elevates itself for every audience member of every possible age group who can not only enjoy its fun elements but also connect to its philosophical implications.
What irked me about the film: –
Honestly speaking, it’s really difficult to dislike something in a movie like Spirited Away and even if you find out something perplexing or nettling, you won’t be able to recall that in the next 5 minutes! However, just in order to fill this portion up I would mention 2 such things about the film that irked me to some (very small) extent.
One thing is its lack of quotable or memorable dialogues. Imagine watching a movie and loving it like hell but not even remembering a single line which you could hold in your heart forever! That’s strange albeit unimportant, but it nevertheless irks me slightly that I won’t be quoting any lines from any characters in this film. Ofcourse, I wouldn’t rule out that there maybe some dialogues which the Japanese can find quotable because they understand the language of the film; but for someone who relied on the subtitles or on its English dubbing, it’s absent.
Second thing that irked me was Chihiro forgiving No Face and allowing him to join her in her journey to find Zeniba. Damn girl he just tried to eat you up and the next moment you’re claiming that he isn’t dangerous and won’t hurt you! I can understand a child’s innocence but not such blatant gullibility! Miyazaki probably could have thought of something to make them friends in a more logical fashion and that could have rendered the film perfect!
Final Verdict: –
Even though I have written quite some paragraphs about the negativities of the film but don’t let it mislead you into skipping this flick. Spirited Away entertains you, charms you, melts you and at times even gives you goosebumps! Its all-round beauty is so profound that you can recall its imageries even after a long time it ended. Very few films can present their complex storylines with sheer simplicity and Spirited Away is probably among the best of them. It’s not just one of the best animated movies but also one of the best movies to have ever been made!