Monday, December 9, 2013

"The Secret World of Arrietty" (2010)

Studio Ghibli achieves, in the opinion of this writer (as well as most aesthetically sensible people, wink, wink), some of the most beautiful, astonishing animation ever put to film. If I were tasked with introducing someone to animation who was completely ignorant with the art-form, it is highly likely I would turn to Ghibli. Disney in its heyday, and certainly Pixar until recently, have better examples of story-telling, but no one tops the sheer visual artistry of Miyazaki and company. Where I run into problems—be it due to cultural distance or the fault of the filmmakers I leave for others to decide—is in the stories themselves.

However, with 2010s “Arrietty” there is no such problem. Some may find it boring or disappointing that there are no flourishes of the fantastic or strange twists and turns to this story. Instead, it is in the simple, straightforward adaptation of the classic children’s book that we are permitted to be astounded with the visuals. And as often as this story has been put on screen using special effects and camera trickery, it is only in the medium of animation that the premise of “The Borrowers” can truly come to life. Even better, the way Hiromasa Yonebayashi employs the photorealistic style makes the story at once beautiful and believable.

And that is where the true heart of this story lies. Never mind that half the characters are mere inches tall and live a fantastic existence of another perspective that every child at some point tries to imagine. This is a story of real emotion and connection with which everyone can identify.

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