Review: Arrietty

With hindsight, it’s a wonder that the famed story of The Borrowers by Mary Norton has not been touched by the magic of Studio Ghibli already. The world of fantasy that the studio usually creates has been replaced by a world just as enchanting, but here based on real-world objects. Director Yonebayashi has created a work of art that lives up to the Ghibli name, with impressive scaled-up soundscapes accompanying lush visuals.

The film follows the antics of Arrietty, a curious teenage Borrower who longs to explore the wider world. She lives with her father, Pod, and her nervous mother Harmony. Her curious nature leads her to encounter a young ‘human-being’ called Sho, who gains her trust by attempting to persuade her that not all humans are dangerous.

The intricate detail in Arrietty is a delight to observe. Small, everyday objects become innovative gadgets used to great effect, such as when Pod uses double-sided tape to scale a table leg. This intricate macro world that the Borrowers inhabit is juxtaposed by the flourishing Japanese gardens that surround the house, which can only be truly appreciated during the long panning shots.

As well as being pleasing on the eye, Arrietty uses soundscapes to great effect too, harnessing noises to create a real sense of scale. This is most notable when Arrietty and Pod first emerge into the vast world of humans and encounter the thunderous chime of a grandfather clock. Accompanied with the visceral detail, Yonebayashi’s film does a great job of drawing the viewer into the world of the borrowers.

The film also has an environmental narrative, in keeping with the traditional tone of Ghibli films. “It’s not our fault, it’s yours,” exclaims Arrietty when talking to Sho about why The Borrowers are diminishing in numbers. A similar message is tangible in Ponyo, Princess Monoke and arguably Spirited Away. Although not the central message of the film, the notion that ‘human-beings’ are having a drastic effect on the wellbeing of creatures around them is clearly a subtext here.

All in all, Arrietty is a treat for any Ghibli fan. The characters aren’t quite as endearing as those found in some of its standout titles, but it’s a well executed take on a family favourite.

Via Blogomatic 3000

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