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Master animator Hayao Miyazaki directs this fantasy adventure about Chihiro, a ten-year-old girl who is leaving behind everything she knows to move with her parents to a new home. Along the way, they stumble across a tunnel that leads to a spooky, deserted open-air restaurant where Chihiro's parents sit down and begin to eat. But she is uncomfortable with their new surroundings and wanders off to explore further. She meets a boy, Haku, who explains to her that the world they have entered is a holiday resort for spirits who have left behind their exhausting earthly duties. After discovering that her greedy parents have been turned into pigs, she learns the number one rule of the new world she is now part of: laziness is not tolerated, and only working hard can enable her to break the spell on her parents. With its fantastical critique of an adult world of capitalism and wasteful consumption, entwined with the simple tale of a girl finding herself and learning to get by on her own, the film has been dubbed a modern-day 'Alice in Wonderland', and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Released to Buy:
29 March 2004
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There are few anime films more worthy of the title of ‘most essential’ than Spirited Away. From start to finish – and more importantly, beyond – this is a film that challenges your imagination and expands the horizons of what a ‘fantasy’ can really be.
Chihiro and her parents are travelling to a new house when they find themselves off the beaten track and in an abandoned town. Wandering off alone, the young girl finds herself in a town of ghostly figures, and when she returns to the place she left good old mum and dad, only a pair of pigs remain. Launched into a bizarre world full of outrageous characters, Chihiro must survive and adapt to a new life that’s full of outlandish surprises.
It should go without saying that the film has a thoroughbred background that would make it the envy of any animated production. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and from the prestigious Studio Ghibli, it was always a near-certain hit. However, when it won the Oscar for Best Animated Film, it rocketed to international fame on a scale almost unheard of for a feature length anime. No longer the stuff of sci-fi gore or philosophy, through Spirited Away’s success, anime became a high-profile medium once again, and has no doubt drawn a fresh batch of fans into the fold.
Quintessentially Japanese, the blend of fantastical characters, folklore and imaginative settings makes this a film that can enchant people of all ages.
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