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Film Review - Spirited Away
It's easy for movies to get stuck in a rut. Genres have their forms. The forms become safe skeletons to hang a story upon. But these forms get very tired. Here's one that doesn't fit in a tired old rut. Spirited Away is an unusual coming of age film.
Chihiro is a ten year old girl who is moving to a new town with her parents. She is unhappy, and a bit of a brat. The family takes a wrong turn and discovers the gate to what they think is an abandoned amusement park. They enter and soon are snared in a trap. The parents have started to eat like pigs and are thus transformed into swine.
Chihiro is afraid and begins to look for help. But the more she looks the deeper she enters this strange world. She ends up at a bath resort for spirits. Humans and not allowed and are said to stink.
It is soon apparent that Chihiro is going to have to help others before she can get her parents and herself back to the car. In doing so, she takes her first steps out of childhood.
What is refreshing about this film is how no person is portrayed as a simple villain. In fact, there are no villains. Just people going about their lives. It is the situation that creates the conflict.
This is a film that is obviously not knocked off the assembly line. The animation is creative and complex. It is a rare film where a great story comes together with superior production values. And one where people of many ages and cultural backgrounds can appreciate.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Released in 2001
MPAA Rating: PG
Reviewed by Mongo