Hayao Miyazaki (2001)
I recently had the pleasure of re-watching this wonderful animated fantasy fairy tale and came to the realization that I had never posted it on my blog, so I decided I had better do so. This is one of my favorite animated stories, and I have always felt that Spirited Away is as good a story as Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, complete with fantastic imagery and fantastic imaginative characters. I love a story that can transport you from the comforts of your living room directly to a reality conjured up by dreams and imagination, despite of age and countless other factors. I remember watching films like this as a child and hoping that one day I could take an amazing adventure through my own fantasy world of interesting characters.
Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli. The film stars Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Takehiko Ono, and Bunta Sugawara. Spirited Away tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood, enters the world of Kami (spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore). After her parents are turned into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.
Miyazaki wrote the script after he decided the film would be based on the 10-year-old daughter of his friend Seiji Okuda, the movie’s associate producer. Production of Spirited Away began in 2000. Pixar animator John Lasseter, a fan and friend of Miyazaki, convinced Walt Disney Pictures to buy the film’s North American distribution rights, and served as executive producer of its English-dubbed version. Lasseter then hired Kirk Wise as director and Donald W. Ernst as producer, while screenwriters Cindy and Donald Hewitt wrote the English-language dialogue to match the characters’ original Japanese-language lip movements.
Originally released in Japan on July 20th, 2001 by distributor Toho, the film received universal acclaim, grossing over $352 million worldwide, and is frequently ranked among the greatest animated films ever made. Accordingly, it became the most successful and highest-grossing film in Japanese history with a total of $293 million, overtaking Titanic in the Japanese box office.
It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, making it the first hand-drawn and non-English-language animated film to win that award. It was the co-recipient of the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival, and is in the top 10 on the British Film Institute’s list of “Top 50 films for children up to the age of 14”. In 2016, it was voted the 4th-best film of the 21st century by the BBC, as picked by 177 film critics from around the world, making it the highest-ranking animated film on the list. In 2017, it was also named the second “Best Film…of the 21st Century So Far” by The New York Times.
I think you will enjoy Spirited Away as you are swept into a world full of possibilities and meaning. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, and I think you will, too.