Back Spirited Away
class rating
Monday, 27 May 2019 at 08.15p
Studio Ghibli
  • Animation, Fantasy
  • 2001
  • Japan
  • Colour
  • 125 mins.

Miyazaki’s masterpiece harks back to the cosy surrealism of children’s classics such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, with its baroque visuals and freewheeling dream-logic narrative as much gushing from its creator’s unfettered imagination as drawn from traditional Japanese iconographies.

The story centres on the adventures of 10-year-old Chihiro as, to remove a curse placed upon her parents, she is put to work in an traditional bathhouse populated by a panoply of colourfully-drawn ancient deities. Here she is stripped of her identity and assigned the name ‘Sen’, an alternative reading of the first character in her name.

The top-grossing domestic production of all time in Japan, Spirited Away won best animated feature at the 2004 Academy Awards and this marked a watershed moment in the global mainstreaming of Japanese animation. It did put Studio Ghibli firmly on the map of international critics. The crossover success is hardly surprising considering how vividly Miyazaki riffs on both European and local sources, creating a dreamlike fairytale that appears both exotic and yet strangely familiar, and whose surface eccentricities can’t conceal its very human soul.


Hayao Miyazaki


Hayao Miyazaki

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