'Spirited Away'

by Ashley Clouse 11 months ago in review

#2/100 Favorite (Random) Movie List- Not in any Particular Order

'Spirited Away'

As the first Ghibli film I ever saw, I asked my roommate what she spiked my coffee with. Don't worry, I love this movie now that I have sat down and appreciated this artistry for what it is; definitely one of Studio Ghibli's best. A few years later, my roommate and I made her then boyfriend (now husband, bless him) watch this with us for his first-time viewing. Only one word came out of him after the credits rolled: "Damn." I dragged my brother-in-law to a vintage theater to watch it with me, and overall he enjoyed it (I think). My husband one day just decided he wanted to watch it with me. Now, this was not an opportunity I was going to pass up. If someone who doesn't know much about or really particularly love Ghibli movies, asks you to watch one, it does not matter if you are in the mood or not. You watch it right then and there, because you may never get this opportunity again.

Now granted, this is not the type of film for everyone. It's weird. It has a lot of foreign customs and insight and references that I don't think I will ever completely understand, being an American. But, this film is a masterpiece of visual delight. The gorgeous colors, music, and character visuals are a feast for the eyes. And not to mention, it has some absolutely delicious trademark Ghibli food shots!

Spirited Away takes the imagination of childhood innocence and wonder and creates a world that explodes into color and light and wonder. Our main character is hurled into a world, albeit while going through completely confused the entire time, and ends up going on a personal quest along the way (see the Bechdel Test). Spirited Away is probably one of Ghibli's most well known films, or just under My Neighbor Totoro. But I feel that it brings something completely different to the table.

Let's discuss.

I had never experienced a film like this before. The characters are so odd it takes you a while to figure them out. But they are so charming. Take the Radish Spirit. He never says anything, but he is so adorable you just want to squish him and love him forever. Whether they intend to or not, all of the characters start to fall in love with Chihiro as time goes on. The giant baby, the stewards of the bath house, even the witchy witch Yobaba finds her endearing after a while.

This little girl takes the nobility of traditional lore and flips it on its head. She's scared, she needs direction, she doesn't think she has the capability to be brave, and yet this is what makes her braver than most. She understands that identity is important, and helps a friend reclaim his. She's not here to conquer the bath house. She just wants to go home. However, she makes an impact along the way that creates a better environment for all. Acceptance and love are the key, and they are in the center.

To be totally superficial—Ghibli has a special place in my heart, because it helped me start to build even more of a friendship with the woman who is now my best friend. And although I had never heard anything about Studio Ghibli growing up, the impact that this movie made on so many people is evident. And these movies are critically acclaimed for a reason, most notably, Spirited Away. It deserves every great review it’s earned, and I encourage anyone who has never seen it, to give it a chance. Take in the ducks in the bath, the dragons, No Face, and the magic of this brilliant film.

Ashley Clouse
Ashley Clouse
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Ashley Clouse

Philadelphia photographer and wife, with a love of cheese, adorable plants and true-crime documentaries

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