Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY - SHORT REVIEW

借りぐらしのアリエッティ (The Secret World of Arrietty)
July 17, 2010 (Japan)
February 17, 2012 (United States)
94 min

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa
(Based on "The Borrowers" by Mary Norton)


"The Secret World of Arrietty" delivers yet another magical journey courtesy of the amazing animators at Studio Ghibli. The film takes us by the hand through small and simple yet spectacular scenes.

In my complex mind I find comfort in simple principles. One for me is that Studio Ghibli can do no wrong. It did not surprise me in the least that I fell in love with the latest hand-drawn feature from Japan's acclaimed animation studio, "The Secret World of Arrietty." This time around Miyazaki only contributed to the story and script, Hiromasa Yonebayashi stepped up to the director's plate. Based on Mary Norton's "The Borrowers" we follow the small family (small in number and height) of Arrietty and her polarizing parents. They struggle to survive beneath the floor boards and in the walls of a house of "beans" (human beings like you and I) yet live rather comfortably with all of their "borrowed" paraphernalia. That is until a new "bean," Shawn, comes to stay. He is sick and curious. Arrietty is lonely and curious. Curious.

The film's strength resides on the heavily detailed drawings that make each and every frame a worthy art. Seeing everything from a borrower's point of view is exhilarating. If you favor secret worlds that particularly petite protagonists have taken us through in the past ("The Rescuers," "Ratatouille," and of course, "Toy Story" come to mind) then you'll find a lot to gush over here. My favorite sequence is Arrietty's first night out borrowing with her father. We see how it is all done. "The Secret World of Arrietty" has a simple story that is both shown and told in a very easy to follow manner. It is a film for all ages, though approaches the topic of death that none of us will be old enough to fully understand. 

My significant gripe is the distracting lyrical songs by Cécile Corbel strewn throughout. I much prefer to keep it purely instrumental for classics such as these. I saw this at an American theater where Disney (who has done a fine job of distributing  Studio Ghibli pictures onto DVDs) treated it with an English dub. It is fine and will prove to be the only way for younger viewers to follow along, but I would still like to hear the original Japanese voice actors when I add this to my collection. 


★★★★½

CONTENT: some frightening moments

Updated 2.16.13

1 comment:

tifsong said...

loved this movie.