A young girl becomes trapped in the spirit world and must adapt
to her situation while trying to figure out how to get home.
Spirited Away (2001)
Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Susan Egan,
Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Bob Bergen,
Lauren Holly, Michael Chiklis, John Ratzenberger
Oscar Wins - Best Animated Film
For years, I've heard nothing but amazing things about the films of Hayao Miyazaki. I'll admit it took me way too long to finally give his work a chance. Spirited Away was my first foray into his incredible filmography, and it was a delight. The film is beautifully animated to say the least, and sports a highly original story and an assortment of majestic characters. The film deals with some serious situations, such as facing your fears and discovering your own identity at an early age. It's clear to me now why Miyazaki has such a huge fanbase across the world.
Spirited Away begins when young Chihiro and her parents explore an abandoned amusement park and somehow end up trapped in the spirit world. Her parents are turned into pigs and she is forced to find a job or she'll end up a pig herself. What follows is Chihiro's journey of self-discovery as she conquers her fear of change by befriending a lost boy, saving a river spirit, and showing compassion to a ravenous monster. Every frame of this film is a work of art, a painting forever rendered in film. The movements, the colors, and the camera angles all reinforce Miyazaki's vision and create something truly unique.
I wasn't sure if I'd like this film, but I knew it was the best place to start if I wanted to finally watch a Miyazaki movie. After all, it won Best Animated Film at the '03 Oscars. I'm glad I ended up enjoying it, as now I've got a whole new plethora of amazing films to explore. Spirited Away is a gorgeous metaphor for learning to accept that there are some things you can't change, but there are others you can. It's up to you to realize the difference between the two.