Friday, 23 July 2010

New Ghibli film - Borrower Arrietty

A Studio Ghibli production is timeless. If you don't like the consistently high quality output from the Ghibli studios, then there's a chance you might actually be a typically Studio Ghibli villain - namely a slightly crotchety antagonist with obvious flaws but redeeming qualities. J'accuse!

In spite of my quirky taste in cinema, I don't automatically love all that is anime - nor do I rush around saying everything is kawaii all the time - but I have never been able to resist the vision and worldview of Ghibli animator/director Hayao Miyazaki.

A film-loving friend of mine described watching a Studio Ghibli film as 'going to film church'. Such films have... transcendent qualities. They're not about making you feel good. They're about making you feel... uplifted. Taken out of your humdrum worldview and offered a glimpse of a bigger, better, wider world.

A studio Ghibli film appeals to our childlike sensibilities, not our childish ones.

Certain elements repeat themselves in a Miyazaki film. Watch 'Spirited Away', 'My neighbour Totoro', 'Kiki's Delivery Service' and 'Castle in the Sky' and all his other efforts and you'll see the same themes again and again: A shinto-influenced love of and respect for nature. A need for the child to be the main protagonist, with no parents to help them. Villains who shift morally, meaning that nobody is out and out evil, they are a lost soul needing change.

And of course, the feminism. Ghibli films tend to feature independent young girls on a mission. However, a Japanese friend assured me that the films were not quite as feminist to a Japanese eye. Little boys are trained for success from birth, and cannot be expected to play and be free in the same way as a little girl - so it's in part a cultural imperative that the independent young children at the centre of whimsical and freewheeling Ghibli films are actually female. In fact, my Japanese friend asserts that it is actually the Ghibli films that feature free-thinking, spirited and independent little BOYS that are the ones addressing gender issues. Interesting.

So now we have the latest offering from Studio Ghibli, and you can view the film trailer here: Borrower Arriety.

It's a Victorian-styled creation based on the classic Borrowers books. Arietty is a miniature girl who survives by borrowing from the house she and her family live in. All goes well until Arietty is discovered...

I've not seen Borrower Arietty, but I'm sure it will feature beautiful animation, characters who progress and engage the emotions, a paean to the natural world, surreal visions and a feeling of looking through the mirror glass like Alice.

I think it's about time for me to go back to Film Church...

If you've already seen the film, or are looking forward to it - or even if you think Studio Ghibli is hugely overrated - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

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