Arrietty

Whisper of the Heart

 Using part of my first salary, I took my younger sibling to a Studio Ghibli film. (Note: the younger sibling is not a shield I am hiding behind, I would have gone by myself if no one else wished to come). Studio Ghibli is a Japanese film industry, sort of the equivalent of Disney, which has produced spectacularly scrumptious eye candy such as Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and my two favorite Whisper of the Heart, and My Neighbours, The Yamadas.

What I especially love about this animation is the style, with its light lines and soft strokes, all encompassing a delicious array of colours, and the amazing ability to emulate the small beauties of life in such a simple and direct manner.

These people can make a traffic jam look beautiful.

My Neighbors, the Yamadas

So beautiful that you almost feel the urge to ditch this world and pounce at the screen, hoping that you will somehow be magically transported into whatever story you happen to be viewing.

Arrietty is Studio Ghibli’s take on the well-known and much beloved story of The Borrowers. The movie, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, opens with a young Japanese boy, Sho, who arrives at his mother’s childhood home. Sho, being of a weak heart, has been sent here to rest while he awaits his operation. He expects a quiet, uneventful, but peaceful time with his grandmother, and the house maid, Haru.

I mourn the fact that I do not own such a charming little house.

Of course, as we all know, what one expects is not always – may be better to say never – what actually happens. Sho has heard his mother speak of ‘the little people’ that various members of her family have spotted in this house at one time or another. Unsurprisingly Sho did not consider the story to be true in anyway – but he is forced to confront facts when he himself happens to chance upon these ‘little people’.

Arrietty is the only daughter to two loving parents. They live in the country, surrounded by deep, quiet greenery dotted with colourful splashes of wild flowers. They live in a charming house. Or, to be precise, they live under the charming house because, well, they’re small enough to fit under there. They are ‘the Borrowers’ and, as far as they are aware, the last of their kind. Arrietty, a high-spirited, pleasant-humored girl has been practising strenuously for her first ever ‘borrowing’ expedition, an important milestone in the life of any youngster from a ‘borrowing’ family. Her enthusiasm is only slightly dampened by her over-protective parents, who are fearful of being sighted, and hesitant of allowing their only daughter to venture out into the big world of the ‘human beans’.

The outdoor scenes are the best (in my humble opinion anyway).

 Chaos ensues when, during one expedition, she is spotted by the human Sho. Her parents, convinced that any ‘human bean’ is a bad ‘human bean’, begin to prepare themselves to move houses – not exactly the smallest of feats when you’re ten centimeters tall.

The music, too, was amazing. It really soared, and helped to emphasize how ‘big’ the world really is to Arrietty; it lifts your spirits and makes your heart skip a beat. It sounded to me as if it had a bit of an Irish slant, while at the same time projecting a very Oriental sound. Pure bliss to the ears. Below is one of the songs I specially loved, it’s called ‘The Neglected Garden’, sung by Cecile Corbel; her enchanting voice was just the icing on the already wonderfully artistic cake:

(The guitar strummnig just lifts everything, make everything seem light, as if you could soar off into the sky).

I’d definitely recommend seeing the movie – it’s so refreshing in its style, and, as I said before, the art and the colors used are so vivid and vibrant that you can’t help but be pulled in. I watched the Japanese version with English subtitles, but the conversation wasn’t too complex so it was quite easy to keep track of what was being said, while taking in the amazing visuals unfolding on the screen. It will definitely appeal to the youngster inside you. And if you are more on the mature side then the magical soundtrack and charming visual effects will make for a very satisfying movie.

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2 thoughts on “Arrietty

  1. I really like the line: “These people could make a traffic jam look beautiful.” And after reading this post, I so want to check out Studio Ghibli films! I just looked on our library DVD shelves where I work and we have _Whisper of the Heart_ and _Howl's Moving Castle_…can't wait to watch them!!:)

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  2. It's really true. 'Arrietty' actually started with a bird's eye view of traffic and even that was delectable.
    Yay! I hope you like them. 'Howl's Moving Castle' is based on Diana Wynne Jones' novel of the same name – it's very fantastical, lots of magic and also humor. But I love Whisper of the Heart because it's set in the real world, but through the main girl's imagination you get a sense of the kind of magic that's availabe in reality if people care to look. Also, look out for the Baron in Whisper. He's my favorite 😉 I'd love to hear what you think of them!

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