Friday, Feb. 17 was a special day for cinema as it was the opening day for the US theatrical release of Studio Ghibli’s new film, “The Secret World of Arrietty.” Of course, it was imperative for us at the Clog to catch a showing on opening day, with Totoro plushies in tow.
Based on the novel “The Borrowers” and its subsequent sequels by Mary Norton, the movie follows a young 14-year-old girl named Arrietty, who lives with her mother and father under the floorboards of an old, rural home owned by an elderly woman named Jessica. Arrietty and her parents are “borrowers” or little people (little enough in which mice are a threat) that “borrow” essentials from the home above such as food or tissue paper. On a venture through the house with her father, Arrietty is discovered by a young boy named Shawn, Jessica’s sickly nephew who arrives at the home for a quiet retreat. Arrietty and Shawn soon form a friendship and of course, like all forbidden relationships, tribulations follow.
One of the first things we noticed about the film was how lush the backdrops were. Jessica’s home is surrounded by an expansive garden so much of the film takes place in beautifully illustrated flower fields. One scene in particular that made us go “wow” was shot of Shawn laying in the garden, surrounded by a bevy of flowers and tall grass, reading a book against the sun. Scenic. As an aside, it’s amusing that Disney decided to move away from the film’s predominant color scheme of warm shades of brown and green in favor of … drab grays and blues for the official poster. Thanks Disney.
Of course, the animation was nicely done as well. We loved that much the interaction between characters depended on subtle body language just as much as dialogue. As Arrietty and her father travel through the house in the beginning of the movie, much of their communication was channeled through the careful animation of each character – the swift, excited motions of Arrietty and careful, slow stride of the father.
The story and characters were fairly straight-forward. Don’t expect a complex plot or fantastic action. “Arrietty” is much more mellow than say, “Spirited Away.” The movie is the definition of a “simple idea, executed well.”
Overall, we enjoyed the movie and recommend it to any Ghibli fan or anyone who is interested in animated films. We think director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (who previously worked as an animator for many Ghibli films) made a wonderful debut and look forward to more of his works!
The movie is currently playing at California Theaters on 2113 Kittredge Street. The film is gorgeous on a big screen; go see it (or wait for the blu-ray release, you party pooper).
Tags:animation, California Theaters, Disney, disney-induced childhood nostalgia, movie theater, movies, Studio Ghibli
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