Posted December 15, 2011 by Paula Hammond - Features Editor in Films
 
 

Arrietty DVD


Imagine that you’re sinking into a bath of warm, soapy water. Close your eyes and feel the water around you, enfolding you, caressing you skin. Now, breathe in. Hold it. Then, slowly, very slowly, exhale. The effect is much like watching “Arrietty”.

Imagine that you’re sinking into a bath of warm, soapy
water. Close your eyes and feel the water around you, enfolding you, caressing
you skin. Now, breathe in. Hold it. Then, slowly, very slowly, exhale. The
effect is much like watching “Arrietty”.

This wonderfully told tale is one
of those rare films which has the power to calm and soothe the soul. While the
likes of Cars, Kung Fu Panda and Rango
rely on loud characters, pumpin’ sound tracks and endless action scenes to
capture our attention, Studio Ghibli
have never been afraid to step back and say ‘Whoa!’. We all need a little quiet
time, especially children, and director Hiromasa
Yonebayashi
knows exactly how to de-stress an audience. Arrietty unfolds
like a Spring flower, allowing the viewer to loose themselves in the film’s
glorious visuals and still beauty.

Studio Ghibli founders, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, have been planning to adapt Mary Norton’s novel, The
Borrowers
for almost 40 years and the result doesn’t disappoint. Ghibli’s
unique ‘voice’ infuses the film but Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who also worked on Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, adds his own skills to
the mix, to create a memorable and magical movie.

Studio Ghibli animies often
feature a spirited heroine – in this case Arrietty, a tiny Borrower whose
family live beneath the floorboards of a rambling, old house in Tokyo’s leafy
‘burbs. Everything changes for Arrietty and her family when she’s spotted by a
‘human bean’ boy named Sho. Sho is, in many ways, a borrower as well, though
he’s living on borrowed time as he awaits an operation on his heart. Love and
friendship are important Ghibli themes too and the scenes between Arrietty and
Sho provide some of the film’s most moving moments, as the characters gradually
set aside their fears and learn to trust in one other. The borrowing sequences
are thrillingly done and when the housekeeper, Haru, captures Arrietty’s
mother, the tension is as real as any that could be conjured up by car chases or
kung fu fights. However, as with all Ghibli productions, the real star of the
show is nature herself.

Arrietty is a simply stunning film
in which the beauty of the world around us, filtered through the eyes of
Arrietty and Sho, takes on an epic grandeur. To the tiny heroine, the world is
a big, beautiful place, where raindrops glow like watery gemstones and leaves
unfold like sun-dappled lawns. To Sho, who is so painfully aware of his
mortality, it’s a fragile, fleeting beauty. The scenes where an angry crow
thrashes against a window blind or a sudden earthquake shakes the ground, rock
Sho’s world like physical manifestations of his fears for the future.

When Spirited Away became the
biggest grossing film in Japanese history and walked away with an Academy Award
many fans held their breaths. Such success has a way of turning heads and there
were real fears that Ghibli would want to expand into the international market
with a more ‘Americanised’ product. How wrong we were. Arrietty is pure, old
school Ghibli. Like My Neighbour Totoro
and Whisper of the Heart part of its
appeal is that it is so parochial. Ghibli has a knack of creating very
believable, ravishingly realised little worlds where big things such as
friendship, love and beauty still matter.


Paula Hammond - Features Editor

 
Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com