[personal profile] sinister_sigils
On February 26th, we went to see "The Secret World of Arrietty," which is the most recent Studio Ghibli animated feature to be released in the US under the Disney aegis.

This is the Ghibli version of Mary Norton's award-winning 1952 book, "The Borrowers," which deals with the adventures and misadventures of tiny people living "below the radar" of normal-sized humans. Studio Ghibli's treatment has quite successfully updated the story from the book's quasi-Edwardian setting to the modern day, and moved it from the specifically English setting to a non-specific but gorgeously realized setting.

The plot is simple; the Borrowers are discovered by a young boy (Sean, English voice by David Henrie)whose attempts to learn more about the little people and to cultivate a friendship with the girl Borrower, Arietty (Bridgit Mendler), lead to discovery by others whose intentions are not benign, and trouble ensues. The pleasure of the movie is in the character interactions, and in the marvelous settings conceived by the animators. On the one hand, the internal world of the Borrowers, inside walls and under floors, is cleverly done and in its way, believable. The humans' house is a lovely construct, with its combination of European and Japanese features. The outside world, with its wild garden of flowers, is just beautiful, despite its dangers.

Adventurous Arietty and curious Sean ("The Boy", for much of Norton's book) are quite true to the original text, as is Homily (Amy Pohler), Arrietty's rather hysteric and agoraphobic mother. I think that the character of father Pod (Will Arnett), monosyllabic and workmanlike, is rather an improvement on the Micawberesque father-figure in Norton, partly because the film adaptation's emphasis is more on adventure than on humor.

A charming film,recommended for all ages.

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Date: 2012-03-12 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tandw.livejournal.com
Spouse and I went to see it this last Saturday. I haven't read any of the books, and she hasn't read them for a long time, so neither of us had well-defined expectations going in (except for Studio Ghibli's quality record, of course). We both loved it. One of Miyazaki's hallmarks is his attention to detail, and that was showcased well here even with a different director--when someone gets into a car, it lowers a bit from the weight; surface tension effects at the milliscale; the natural movement of cats and birds; etc. I thought they did an extraordinary job of showing why Borrowers don't trust any of the Beans--even when Sean is trying to be helpful and considerate, he does tremendous incidental damage to the house, and at the same time betrays the Borrowers' existence to the less benign others. The pacing of the film also reminded me of "My Neighbor Totoro," which is no bad thing. Given what most children's entertainment looks like, that sort of leisurely stepping through a story with minimal frantic bits (with the exception of the crow encounter) is a welcome exception. Certainly when our children were younger we preferred they watch Totoro instead of any number of other things.



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