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Spirited Away (2001)

Cast: Daveigh Chase, Rumi Hiiragi, Daveigh Chase, more...
Director: Hayao Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki
    see all cast/crew...
Rating:
Studio: Walt Disney Video
Genre: Anime, Foreign, Anime Feature Films, Animation, Cel, Studios, Ghibli
Languages: English, French, Japanese
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Synopsis
Master animation director Hayao Miyazaki follows up on his record-breaking 1997 opus Princess Mononoke with this surreal Alice in Wonderland-like tale about a lost little girl. The film opens with ten-year-old Chihiro riding along during a family outing as her father races through remote country roads. When they come upon a blocked tunnel, her parents decide to have a look around -- even though Chihiro finds the place very creepy. When they pass through the tunnel, they discover an abandoned amusement park. As Chihiro's bad vibes continue, her parents discover an empty eatery that smells of fresh food. After her mother and father help themselves to some tasty purloined morsels, they turn into giant pigs. Chihiro understandably freaks out and flees. She learns that this very weird place, where all sorts of bizarre gods and monsters reside, is a holiday resort for the supernatural after their exhausting tour of duty in the human world. Soon after befriending a boy named Haku, Chihiro learns the rules of the land: one, she must work , as laziness of any kind is not tolerated; and two, she must take on the new moniker of Sen. If she forgets her real name, Haku tells her, then she will never be permitted to leave. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

This disc contains the feature.

Special Features:

  • Spirited Away Introduction by John Lasseter

You might also enjoy:
Kiki's Delivery Service
The entertaing adventures of a budding witch (light years from Sabrina) and her talking cat

Princess Mononoke
Miyazaki's fantastical, eco-themed fantasy features another headstrong young lady

City of Lost Children
Completely original in look and feel, this live-action feature is a dark fairy tale about children whose dreams are stolen

Castle in the Sky
Another wondrous kids adventure from Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli


GreenCine Member Ratings

Spirited Away (2001)
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8.33 (2117 votes)
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Spirited Away (Bonus Disc) (2001)
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7.73 (185 votes)
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GreenCine Member Reviews

NOT anime by Bean October 12, 2005 - 11:16 AM PDT
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3 out of 7 members found this review helpful
I resisted seeing this film, thinking it was typical anime. It is not anime or manga. It is a spiritual film, along the lines of The Lord of the Rings. It breaks the animation barriers of imagination. See it, no matter how old you are.

Watched it 2x in a row by Minderella May 10, 2005 - 11:45 AM PDT
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2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
.. and I think it's interesting that another reviewer found it "Disney-like" but was dissapppointed in the ending. The ending is very not Disney. What I loved was the full realization of emotions and action and thought in the protagonist. Might have to buy this one.

A true masterpiece from the master of Japanese animation. by JTurner1 April 17, 2004 - 9:50 AM PDT
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3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
As with Miyazaki's films, Spirited Away is a magical tapestry of sights and sounds filled with exotic creatures, mythical settings, and, for its heroine, a little girl named Chihiro who is cute and sweet and thankfully not a selfish brat or bad-tempered hysterical bitch (unlike some of the other Anime I was watching around this time period). She starts off as initially sulky, but mainly because of a situation we can all relate to: she is moving with her parents to a new home, and thinks that her new life is "gonna stink". She becomes understandably panicked and suspicious when her parents decide to cross through a forbidden tunnel to a restaurant-filled village where they gobble up food that is sacred and cursed. Yes, CURSED -- her parents are transformed into pigs! To free her mother and father, Chihiro must find work at the town's central bathhouse (populated with all sorts of bizarre and unconventional spirits). The bathhouse's contemptuous owner, a greedy sorceress named Yubaba (who has, MY GOODNESS, THE HUGEST BABY I HAVE *EVER* SEEN!), grudgingly agrees, and in doing so renames her Sen. Although our ten-year old heroine is at first frowned upon by many of the bath house workers, Chihiro finds true friends in Kamaji, the six-legged(!) boiler man, Lin, the gruff but loyal bath house woman, and of course, Haku, a mysterious pale-faced boy whom Chihiro seems to have a deep connection with....

To reveal anything more about this masterpiece would be a crime, but I will emphasize that the artistry is jampacked with weirdness, imagination, and creativity, from the bathhouse's exotic-looking guests to a mysterious shadowy specter called No Face, who voices anyone he swallows -- and tempts people with gold. The sceneries also deserve special recognition; every location in the film, from the bathhouse's atrium to a breathtaking train ride across a glossy seabed (my personal favorite sequence in the movie) is painted with love and care... so stunning that one feels tempted to grab it like candy. Joe Hisaishi's music score, although not as memorable as some of his earlier works for Miyazaki, is a fabulous accompaniment for the picture; some of the tunes work better for the scenes than as a listening experience. The characters, as always, are believable, full-fledged, and multi-faceted -- there are no cardboard cut characters or caricatures present.

Under the supervision of John Lasseter, a longtime fan of Miyazaki (and director of many PIXAR productions, most notably Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Monsters Inc.), and Disney director Kirk Wise, the film was dubbed into English -- with phenomenal results that rank with Disney's previous dubs for Miyazaki's films. Although the cast is quite good, it is Suzanne Pleshette who steals the show; she plays Yubaba's greedy, loud-mouthed nature, pampering maternal side to her baby, and her twin sister, Zeniba (who, by the way, is the opposite of Yubaba -- she is IDEALLY Granny!) to perfection. Lasseter, Wise, and their team deserve special credit for their work on this film.

Spirited Away received a modestly successful limited theatrical release in America, but it made many of the Top 10 Best Films of 2002 lists and won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Animated Feature of 2002.

It also earned, as with Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky, a fabulous treatment on DVD. The video quality is gorgeous, the audio mix superb, and the extras lengthy. Included are a passable intro from John Lasseter, a great 15-minute documentary on the translation of the film, a five-minute behind-the-microphone with the English dub cast, storyboard comparisons, a half-hour(!) of trailers, and best of all, a 40-minute Japanese TV special which goes inside Studio Ghibli during the making of the film!

Spirited Away is a must-get, period.

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