Spirited Away-The record-breaking Oscar Winner!
This was the movie that put Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki on the world map. He had famously returned from retirement to create another piece of work.
“Tale of the fanciful adventures of a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro, who discovers a secret world when she and her family get lost and venture through a hillside tunnel. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, Chihiro must fend for herself as she encounters strange spirits, assorted creatures and a grumpy sorceress who seeks to prevent her from returning to the human world.”
― Storyline by IMDb
On observing the traits of a young 10-year-old girl at one of his vacations, he conceived the idea of this movie. It went on to become the highest grossing Japanese movie of all time, won the Oscar and is a movie that will be remembered for many decades to come.
The movie is a blend of seemingly fantastical characters with unreal characteristics – but, ones that all humans can connect to! One is led into a world of the spirits and sees the young Sen or Chihiro meet a sorceress, a masked cloaked spirit, a cursed boy who turns into a dragon, the god of the river, bouncing heads, a giant baby and all this after her parents are turned into pigs! This movie is such a visual treat to watch. It also showcases raw human emotions of greed, gluttony, forgiveness, hope, fear, love and determination.
“I felt this country [Japan] only offered such things as crushes and romance to 10-year-old girls, though, and looking at my young friends, I felt this was not what they held dear in their hearts, not what they wanted. And so I wondered if I could make a movie in which they could be heroines…
If they find this movie to be exciting, it will be a success in my mind. They can’t lie. Until now, I made “I wish there was such a person” leading characters. This time, however, I created a heroine who is an ordinary girl, someone with whom the audience can sympathize, someone about whom they can say, “Yes, it’s like that.”
It’s very important to make it plain and unexaggerated. Starting with that, it’s not a story in which the characters grow up, but a story in which they draw on something already inside them, brought out by the particular circumstances… I wanted to tell such a story in this movie. I want my young friends to live like that, and I think they, too, have such a wish.”
― Hayao Miyazaki
Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality.
“We are going to build a three-story studio. Its success is not our priority. What’s important is that you’re doing what you want. Our foremost objective here is making good films. One consistent theme in my work is to watch good animation and surpass it.”
That was a quote from Hayao Miyazaki in 1978 and ever since then, he has developed a filmography compiled of some of the greatest animated masterpieces in cinematic history. For forty years, Miyazaki’s dexterity and creativity have dazzled audiences through his feature-length animations to become the undisputed master of his craft. Only those whose names have become synonymous with the medium could profess to a career as consistently successful and celebrated as his.
In the West, there still remains a stigma that most animation is solely for children and thus animation that is created typically tends to avoid the more burdensome themes we’re accustomed to in our live-action films. However, Miyazaki is not your typical animator. He took an approach to animated filmmaking that concentrates on the emotional intricacies of his subjects as opposed to creating, ironically, cartoony characters. His aim wasn’t to make things that spoke down to children. His aim was to make films that would help us all further understand the human condition.
“Children need to see something incomprehensible and they’ll understand later.”
Miyazaki has stated that at the core of all his stories, there must be a sense of realism. Amidst the gods, demons and fantasy elements, it’s the human side that is often prioritized. His focus often lies on human nature and what can be understood irrespective of culture.
So please go and watch a Miyazaki film today!