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Plot: Chihiro and her family are on their way to their new house in the suburbs when her father decides to take a shortcut along a lonely-looking dirt road. After getting out of the car and walking along a path for a while, they discover an open-air restaurant filled with food but with no workers or customers present. Mom and Dad don't hesitate to sit down and dig in, but Chihiro senses danger and refuses. As night falls, she is terrified to see the area fill with faceless spirits, but when she runs to find her parents, she discovers that they have been turned into pigs. She is found by a mysterious boy named Haku, who promises to help her. He gets her a job working in a nearby building, which turns out to be a bathhouse for the thousands of Japan's gods and spirits. Though the work is hard and the people strange, she does as well as she can. Her parents, however, are still waiting in the hotel's stockyard, and Chihiro must find a way to break the spell on them before they end up as the main course of some guest's dinner. Runtime: 125 mins Release Date: 19 Jul 2001
An Amazing Achievement in Animation. (by Le-Samourai)
'Spirited Away' is the first Miyazaki I have seen, but from this stupendous film I can tell he is a master storyteller. A hallmark of a good storyteller is making the audience empathise or pull them into the shoes of the central character. Miyazaki does this brilliantly in 'Spirited Away'. During the first fifteen minutes we have no idea what is going on. Neither does the main character Chihiro. We discover the world as Chihiro does and it's truly amazing to watch. But Miyazaki doesn't seem to treat this world as something amazing. The world is filmed just like our <more>
workaday world would. The inhabitants of the world go about their daily business as usual as full with apathy as us normal folks. Places and buildings are not greeted by towering establishing shots and majestic music. The fact that this place is amazing doesn't seem to concern Miyazaki. What do however, are the characters. Miyazaki lingers upon the characters as if they were actors. He infixes his animated actors with such subtleties that I have never seen, even from animation giants Pixar. Twenty minutes into this film and I completely forgot these were animated characters; I started to care for them like they were living and breathing. Miyazaki treats the modest achievements of Chihiro with unashamed bombast. The uplifting scene where she cleanses the River God is accompanied by stirring music and is as exciting as watching gladiatorial combatants fight. Of course, by giving the audience developed characters to care about, the action and conflicts will always be more exciting, terrifying and uplifting than normal, generic action scenes. Through Chihiro, Miyazaki is clearly but non-patronisingly talking to youth of Japan. There's a certain sense of revile about the youth of Japan at the moment. Many people consider them to be ill-mannered and baring no respect for their elders or their forefathers. They are simply bi-products of their material world and consumerism. 'Spirited Away' taps into this. At the start Chihiro is a selfish, spoiled, whiny brat. But as she plunges deeper into the spirit world, she becomes more independent, more assured, more respectful and learns some manners. No Face, a black figure with a white mask, is the catalyst behind Chihiro's transformation. Once he is let into the bathhouse, we are no longer tourists Â– the story propels forth. Watching No Face prey on the greed of the workers is a terrifying delight. The three main characters in Miyazaki's youth allegory are Chihiro, No Face and BÃ´. All of these characters are disconnected with their world. They are lonely, misunderstood and largely ignored. But when they go on their journey together, they united and become stronger individuals.Miyazaki also talks about the ecology of Japan. What was once a beautiful; grassland has now turned into the Asian New York. That The Last Samurai had to be filmed in New Zealand to get a turn of the century Japanese look speaks volumes. The River God sequence is an unsubtle but unpretentious commentary on pollution. While these two themes are very much current in Japan, they are also universal themes Â– which makes 'Spirited Away' a universal story that most of us can connect with. I'm willing to bet everyone reading this has at some time seen bicycles lying on a lake bed or have had a child talk to them disrespectfully. Sure these themes aren't advanced philosophy. They are everyday issues told in an inventive, fun way.The animation is wonderful, if not as smooth as Disney's works Â– but there's something superior to that. 'Spirited Away's imperfect, but detailed world is far more fascinating than the perfected blandest of Disney's latest offerings. The animators successfully balanced the tight-rope between not-enough animation on characters and too much animation on characters. No Ralph Balski ADD antics here! The film is full of vivid images Â– both beautiful and horrifying. The line between those two extremes is crossed over seamlessly. From Chihiro and Haku running through an opening flower field to Haku's dragon snarling with a bloody mouth, both extremes seem to belong in the film. It's also excellently done with the characters. Kamaji can be seen as a scary, daunting figure at the beginning, but soon he seamlessly changes into a humble, wise figure. Yubaba also seems to be able to turn from kind to witch with the snap of a finger. The sound on the film was expertly done. The sounds perfectly match the on screen actions and objects. My sub woofer got a wonderful workout when Haku swoops Chihiro past the bridge at the beginning. And while I don't speak Japanese, I think the voice actors did a wonderful job of conveying their personality and emotions true their voice. Joe Hisaishi's music is sublime, definitely one of my favourite scores. His main piano theme is simple and evocative. His thunderous action music hits the viewers on the chest like a hammer. Like all great scores it heightens the greatness of a scene about three times. The score, unlike many American composers', is unobtrusive. It plays excellently with the scenes, but never overbears them. A lot of the time the it is barely noticeable, a sole piano plays softly in the background evoking a dreamlike/lullaby quality. 'Spirited Away' is a simply a modern masterpiece, easily one of the Top 10 films of the new millennium. It works on a multitude of levels; a social commentary on Japan, a homage to ancient Japanese/Russian mythology, a moral film for both children and adults. But most importantly, it is a simple story brilliantly told by a great filmmaker who appears to be at the top of his game. 'Spirited Away' works much like a relaxing journey. Pop in the DVD; leave this world for two hours and when you will be almost certainly enriched and ready to take the trip again.
Actually I dislike his or her comments badly. If you didn't get it watch it again. This is not a piece to just entertain, the creator has put his own feeling and I believe life experience and the fear always buried in children's mind into it. It is a comely tale that express the creator's thoughts in some way, whilst shining as a attractive animation piece with so many details that you might have ignore if you were careless. It is a rich story and I can see the efforts creators put into it in many spots and frames.e.g. While Chihiro was walking towards the garden where Haku told <more>
her to meet him, she passed some stairs where she can see an island, there are some house on it, she stopped for it for a little while, that, represents her longing to human world, her own world, this kind of details can be ignored by many people but they don't mind putting it in to make the whole story richer, more truthful, full of power of humanity.Apart from that, did you ever notice that some "camera language" was used very well to tell the story in a more entertaining and better pace.e.g. When Kamaji was telling Chihiro how Haku turned up to this world before just like what she did, the "camera" panned to where the little rat changed from the fat baby was showing off to soots by putting his foot into the spell melted print while Kamaji's introduction about Haku's background is also getting across to the audience. This is just one of the details that shows how much story telling skills and rhythm control of plots.There're many other things like this, shouldn't be ignored if you want to make a nice comment, even though as an American viewer you might miss a lot of the story by lack of the culture background, but that's not the reason that you can comment it as anyway you want without even really READ the film.I am a visual effects person and film maker but I can't tell where the jerking of the footage and the stopping of character's movement are in the film. could Gazzer please enlighten us? As also a fan of Pixar I hope I don't have bias on either American animations or Japanese ones, but as a Chinese who might have some resistance towards Japanese products for national esteem or historic reason, I still admires Ghibli Studio's work. "Spirited Away" is a masterpiece of elegant picture and touching story, if Gazzer-2 knows what that means."Ice Age" was a pretty cute one of Fox productions, but not good enough to compete with "Spirited Away" I'm afraid. And I'd laugh at the opinion that the story of "Ice Age" is much simpler hence Oscar committee didn't recognise it, actually I believe "Spirited Away" was beautifully hand-painted frame by frame while "Ice Age" had a giant crew in 3d animation and visual effects. I'm afraid Ice Age was the much more complicated one.
A stunning, intoxicating, magical masterpiece. (by shanebuckland)
There is simply no denying that Miyazaki is the Godfather of Japanese Animation, time and time again delivering unto the public works of such incredible beauty, such stunning visual and sensory delights, such mastery of storytelling, that one can only be left speechless. Overwhelmed. Intoxicated with wonder. Such is the magic of Spirited Away.Much like Miyazaki's previous feature Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away is an epic fairytale fantasy that deserves no better medium than the stunning animation work of Studio Ghibli. This multiple award-winning masterpiece has grown to become the <more>
largest grossing film in Japanese history, and rightly so. From the moment our child heroine Chihiro enters the bath houses we are literally bombarded with an overwhelming sense of detail and rich, lavish colours rarely - if ever - seen in western animation. Scenes such as Chihiro running through the field of flowers, the marvellous landscapes seen from the train, Haku and Chihiro soaring the skies above, and Chihiro running across the pipe to climb the walls of the bath house are nothing short of breathtaking, and undoubtably some of the most lavish animation ever to hit the screen.The world of Spirited Away is simply bustling with life; unique, quirky, instantly lovable creatures jostling about their daily activities and tasks in the bath houses, dancing across the screen like leaves caught in a playful summer breeze. The inventiveness of Miyazaki's character designs, much like in Mononoke, is wonderful to behold, in fact not since classic tales like Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland and The Neverending Story have we been able to fall hopelessly in love with such original, quirky, magical, even fantastical characters. The viewer is plunged headfirst into another world for nearly two hours and one cannot help but be completely and utterly captivated.The music and original score is stunningly beautiful, the original Japanese language track of such high quality that one wonders why someone could insult the work by producing a dub track at all. With a plot differing in its complexity on so many levels, from the basic storyline, to the omnipresent universal themes, to the riddling of Japanese history and fable throughout, children and adults alike will be mesmerised from start to end. A magical, awe-inspiring, tearful, laughter-filled, heartfelt journey through a land of sweeping fantasy and dreams.Prepare to be Spirited Away........................
Last year I saw Spirited Away on it's UK release. I've never been a particular fan of anime, and it didn't really occur to me that I was watching a foreign language film dubbed into English or 'American' . I can't imagine seeing a live action foreign language film dubbed into another language, but hey, this is a kids cartoon, what does it matter? Up to a point it didn't, because I loved the film. I enjoyed it so much I set about digging up the Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki back catalogue, in the process Sprited Away was filed away as one of the lesser Ghibli's - <more>
still great, but compared to Laputa, Grave of the Fireflies and a few others, it seemed a little weak. BUT... I recently re-watched it on DVD with the subtitles and found the difference unbelievable. The film came alive like the other Miyazaki's I've seen. It seemed infinitely more layered, detailed, intelligent and witty than I remembered. Could it be that retaining the intended performances even if the words are unintelligible can make that much difference? Maybe the dub was just poorly done? Or was it just because I was now versed in the language of Ghibli? As a little experiment I decided to re-watch some of the film with both the English subtitles and English language dub in order to compare, I ended watching the whole thing out of morbid fascination. It's simply amazing what a difference there is. Entire scenes change. It's not just that subtle emphasis is shifted or the same points are made in a different manner - in the dub, the subject of whole conversations and scenes are changed, and often to some flat and uninteresting hokum. Relationships between characters are changed, their motivations and personalities are changed, the difference is shocking. I appreciate western, and particularly American audiences can be put off by subtitles. And cinemas are less likely to show the film anyway. It's pointless to be all righteous when, fundamentally, you just want people to see the film. Unless they do, this treasure trove will remain undiscovered, and maybe finding it will encourage people to conquer the 'subtitle demon' as Miyazaki might call him . But the problem is the quality of these dubs, and the liberties taken with the source material. Of course, without speaking Japanese, who can say it's not the subtitles that are way off? They're probably written by westerners too. But the dub just stinks of Disneyfication. Saturday morning generic nonsense. The challenging, uncompromising and emotionally ambitious nature of the film is severely watered down.A fair question might be, 'if it's so bad why was it so successful?' The success is evidence of the films staggering quality. Even so, it hardly challenged whatever Jerry Bruckheimer movie was showing at the time. In Japan it's the biggest grossing film in history. 'Go figure,' as Chihiro wouldn't say.
I recently bought this on DVD for my 11 year old sister as a birthday present. The only real background info on it I had at the time was that it was an anime in the vein of Alice In Wonderland. However, in all aspects, including the one that is most often in contention among anime fans, the English dub, reached and then exceeded my expectations.Chihiro is a little girl who is unwilling to join in with her gung-ho parents who are setting off to live in a new town. However, when her father's bad driving has them at a dead end in a forest glade, they discover a tunnel that leads into what <more>
seems to be an abandoned theme park town. However, when the sun goes down it becomes clear that this is a ghost town of a different sort, a place where spirits return each evening to relax and refresh themselves. Chihiro finds herself working at the towering Bath-house of the Spirits and trying to find a way of getting back to her home, encountering many incredible creatures along the way, including the brave water spirit/dragon Haku, gruff but kindly boiler-man Komaji, cranky witch/owner of the bath-house Yubaba and the mysterious wraith No-Face.On the strength of the US English dub, it is an enjoyable and exhilarating film, with a well-written story, fantastic dialogue and, given the nature of the film, totally believable characters. Daveigh Chase is marvelous as Chihiro, and brings across her complex emotional states brilliantly. The supporting cast, including many Disney regulars, are on top form, and whilst it has no real stars on board, the skill of those involved proves it isn't necessary. I often found myself wondering if Wendee Lee was one of the cast members, but on discovering it was Susan Egan I felt like a complete dolt. David Ogden Stiers, the Peter Sellers of Disney, is a treat as Komaji, and Jason Marsden and Suzanne Pleshette are fairly engaging as Haku and Yubaba/Zeniba respectively. Bob Bergen and John Ratzenberger both make good cameos as well.The visuals and sound are crisp and clean and unpretentious, the story is accessible whilst still being quirky and inventive. Whilst at the time of it's release I was repelled by the fact that it seemed a tad too Disney-ish, I now think I can safely say I was wrong. This isn't Alice In Wonderland; it's in a whole different class.And by the way, my sister loved it too.
I will admit hesitation in viewing the latest Miyazaki film, simply because of my own close-minded first impression of it. Historically, I can appreciate the beauty and artistry in all of his films, but I find that I prefer the films that center more on characters Kiki's Delivery Service, Whispers of the Heart as opposed to animals and nature Mononoke Hime, Porco Rosso . Therefore, after seeing that this film was more fantasy than reality, I was not in a hurry to see it. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed out on having seen a masterpiece for several months. Spirited Away, the <more>
story of a little girl who must somehow escape from a world inhabited by fantastical characters is as much about her own evolution and strength in character as it is about the incredible creatures that surround her in her new environment. While Spirited Away is a fairy tale, it is also a lesson in accountability, strength and responsibility. Miyazaki is known for creating strong young female characters that are also completely adorable, but Spirited Away contains some of the most interesting co-stars I have seen in recent memory. A lamp that not only provides a guiding light, but also happens to hop along on one foot, a giant baby and a bird with the head of an elderly lady are just three of the many eccentric characters we experience. Not only are the characters and story line rich, but the artistry is absolutely beautiful as well. The colors and character design are flawless and awe-inspiring. Even I, the cynical and technical viewer found myself saying `Aww' and smiling at the little soot monsters and the `mouse'. The hype was worth it and the Oscar was well-deserved. Spirited Away is a beautiful film that really and truly should be experienced, and has the potential of being enjoyed by most, because it has so many layers and imaginative aspects that there will be points of appeal for just about anyone.--Shelly
Entertaining Enough To Get Away With The Length (by ccthemovieman-1)
How many people can sit through a 120-minute animated film? That's normally just too long for that genre. However, this one could meet that challenge. It only took me two sittings to make it all the way - that's very good, at least for me!The best part of the film was the color, stunning in parts, beautiful and with great detail. It also had some wild characters and a bit of humor here and there, which helped. Overall, a good mix of good and evil and a different kind of story.Being it's Japanese, you are going to get some different theology than you are accustomed to in the West <more>
"the spirits of the wind and water have healed you," etc. but it's not presented in a heavy-handed manner.I was concerned early on as the young girl - the main character in the film - had a shrill voice that was not pleasant but she calmed down after the first part of the film. Overall, entertaining and worth several looks.
Not exactly easy to be "Spirited Away" by this film when it takes so long and has too many slow moments in between (by diac228)
Spirited Away is best-known for being the film that out of nowhere steals the Academy Award for best animated film from Lilo and Stitch and Ice Age, two very successful animated flicks that had come out at the same year. When I mean stole it, I do in fact mean stole it. Spirited Away is the kind of film that really points out what is wrong with animation today: not that much of a story, very inconsistent animation, lack of closure, and just too many slow moments. Clocking in at over two hours long, this is one of the longer animated movies to come out in recent years, and despite the few <more>
humorous moments, it isn't that great overall. Making an astonishing 200 million dollars overseas, it established Hayao Miyazaki as the "Walt Disney of Japan."This movie revolves around a clumsy yet courageous little girl named Chihiro who loses her parents because they ate food that belonged to spirits. As a result of this, she goes through a series of trials and adventures to get back to the regular world, or else be doomed to forever work in a bathhouse for spirits. Along the way, she meets up with Haku, a boy determined to take her back into the real world. Throughout the film, she meets an astonishingly large cast of characters, ranging from a greedy old lady that runs the bathhouse to some cute little spider-like critters. Along the way some of these critters help, some try to kill her, and others carry awful curses that plague their soul and also threatens to ruin the bathhouse.Miyazaki weaves an interestingly bizarre story, yet he stretches it way too long resulting in many dull and many, many slow moments. There are some scenes that way too prolonged and others that some may find utterly pointless. On the technical side though, there is a mixed bag. Unlike most translated animated films, this one stands out with very good voice work, and that is partly thanks to John Lasseter, otherwise known as one of the leading men of Pixar and director of the Toy Story movies.The animation on the other hand, is quite inconsistent. In several points of the film, there is an ugly mix of realistic animation with cartoony animation with an anime-style background. It doesn't mesh too well, seeing a realistically-drawn little girl with two goofy-looking animals and a very detailed old woman all together, sharing the spotlight for a minute or two. The mix of computer animation and regular animation doesn't work either. If you are going to work on a film, make it consistent, or at least make it look consistent. Beauty and the Beast contains some computer animation, but it is almost impossible to notice because it is done so well The Beast dancing with Belle has the most computer animation in the film .As the climax rapidly approaches, it is hard to even find the mood. While on one hand there is suffering, in the corner of the screen there is some funny animation involving a hamster and a small bird trying so hard to keep up with the main character, Chihiro. It is hard to feel sorry and be saddened by the depressing cries of Chihiro, when we see the hamster trying to knit but to no avail. I found myself laughing during scenes in which there was supposed to be a gloomy mood, which is both frustrating and also embarrassing since I was watching it with some other people.Bottom Line: Best animated film of 2001? I don't think so, that title belongs to Ice Age. While it is an interesting and at times intriguing story, it is ruined by the conflicting animation, the amount of time it takes to tell the tale, and the failure to bring any drama when it is supposed to because of what is going on. The ending also arrives rather unexpectedly and comes up a bit short. While it sometimes looks pretty and sometimes is fun to watch, overall it is still lacking. At least it finally breaks the trend of Asian-made movies with bad dubbing by proving some excellent English-speaking voice talent. Spirited Away: won't blow you away, it will not totally frustrate you, but will not convince you to watch it again.
RUNNING TIME - 125 minutes STARRING - Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette CERTIFICATE - PG (by KellyRikDixon)
Chihiro and her parents are driving to their new house. She's upset to leave her old friends and school. When her father gets them lost in the woods, they stumble across what appears to be an abandoned amusement park. Chihiro wanders off and is sucked into a bath-house in a new world, a world of spirits. Chihiro is guided by Haku, henchman of the witch who controls the bath-house. The two of them work hard together to help Chihiro escape and rescue her parents. The youngster proves herself to be as independent as any spirit and fights through many distractions and inconveniences to return <more>
to her own world. Even though she's scared and upset, she makes some close friends among the eccentric characters she meets.I've loved Miyazaki's work as long as I have known it but nothing compares to the experience of Spirited Away. I had not heard of the movie and had seen no trailers, so the unexpected animation was almost perfect. The characters were quite unique and no sane viewer would refuse the offer to follow the child in her enchanting adventure.For years, I've always thought that one of the most important factors of a good movie is the way the title is presented at the beginning and there is no better example to prove my point than in this film. The music is completely overwhelming, especially the attractive sequence displayed at the beginning and repeated throughout.There is very little criticism available, only that it's possible that the unique imagination of Hayou Miyazaki is not appreciated to the extent it should be by the viewers.I've read other reviews and think it's unfair to compare the work with Disney's as the last thing I would call this feature is a 'children's' movie. The two styles are aiming at different audiences and both succeed.