If you have been around this blog long enough, and you remember the Monday Movie Memes I participated in before my beloved Bumbles had their baby, you know I absolutely love Hayao Miyazaki. He is a prominent manga artist and director of many movies, his career spanning over 50 years. His movies all have similar themes running through them, and after you have seen a number of them, you can spot his work a mile away. He often features very strong girls or young women, there can be an innocent but provocative coming-of-age threads, and there is always deference given to the natural world. His movies are purely magical.
The first Miyazaki movie I saw with my kids (and to this day our favorite) was "Spirited Away", which actually won a Best Animated Film Oscar in 2001, and currently stands as the highest grossing film in Japanese history. And for good reason. If you are new to Miyazaki, this is the movie you want to see. Prepared to be blown away.
But what about "The Secret World of Arrietty"? The kids and I would never miss any of his films, so we saw this one the weekend it released. The movie is based on the Mary Norton novel "The Borrowers", and is about a 14 year old girl named Arrietty who lives under the floorboards of a country home with her parents. Arrietty's family are tiny little miniature humans who borrow objects (hatpins, sugar cubes, tissues, nails, etc.) from the big humans they live with in order to survive. When a young boy with a heart condition, Sho, comes to live with his aunt in Arrietty's host home, the two adolescents strike up a friendship, though forbidden. When the housekeeper begins to suspect that the mythical Borrowers do exist, Arrietty and her family's safety is in jeopardy, and they must pick up and move to avoid detection.
As with most Miyazaki films, there were some obvious themes present, primarily the importance of fighting for one's life (Sho who is confronting a risky heart surgery, and Arrietty who discovers that Borrowers are bordering on extinction). But compared to his other movies, some of which could be considered hard core and graphically jarring with its cautionary tales, this one was considerably gentle and geared towards a younger crowd (rated G, which is a rarity these days). That doesn't make it any less enjoyable or magical though. I would highly recommend this one for the whole family.