The Netflix site has in its collection almost all the films of the great Japanese director Hayao Miyasaki: Castle in the sky (his first film, in 1986), My Neighbor Totoro, Nicky the witch's apprentice, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, The Incredible Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises. All of the fantasy anime genre, enjoyable not only for children but for all ages. They are all jewels.
Surely sometimes we have wished that a story, or a dream, or a movie did not end. You don't want the end to come because you feel so good about the story; because you are also not only the protagonist but also the creator within the narrative, and the imagination seems to have no limits and leads you to more. It happens a few times, perhaps very seldom. A Japanese animated film does it: Spirited Away.
Chihiro is a ten-year-old girl who travels by car with her parents to their new house in the country, where they are going to move. Chihiro is upset and sad about the change. A detour that the father takes on the way makes them arrive at a place that looks like an ancient temple. The three enter a dark tunnel and enter an abandoned amusement park. There, Chihiro's parents disappear transformed by their gluttony and having given in to their curiosity. From now on, Chihiro will have to overcome her fear, insecurity and helplessness, and live an amazing series of adventures that surpass those of Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy's in the land of Oz.
An amazing world around a large bathroom building where all the spirits of nature come to rest and tone up, and which is run by a witch with a huge old woman's face and who takes care of a baby no less giant. The strangest and most fascinating characters, far from the usual stereotypes and closer to a Japanese mythology, and the most unpredictable adventures and surprises, will appear in this magical journey for Spirited Away and for each spectator, over a full two hours ( The film needs an audience of no less than nine or ten years of age).
The girl will receive help and friendship from Haku, a beautiful teenager, who will teach Chihiro two secrets to get ahead and save herself: not letting the witch change her name and having a job in the building. In the name the identity of a person is concentrated, that is why each one has to fight so that it is not taken away or forgotten, because it would cease to exist. But each one also has a responsibility to fulfill, no matter how small, and with it he will win over passivity, fear, and disinterest.
Spirited Away will follow in the footsteps of the myth of a hero: a journey, accumulated obstacles, beneficial help, a return, where the person - each one and Chihiro - will have grown, matured, learned. In the end, the fearful, capricious, dependent Chihiro no longer exists, and even the gods themselves will surrender to the energy and affection that she transmits.
Hayao Miyasaki, the old Japanese director, moves away from the superficiality and schematism of many western cartoons, and relies on our human capacity for wonder, imagination, sensitivity, intelligence and spirit. A story, a trip, a dream, that you don't want to end, because it is in a reality without limits that captivates you, and everything is recreated in you.
Assessment: History inspires us to human spiritual growth, taking into account all our capacities and all reality in its diversity, even with the adversities of life.
Luis García Orso, SJ
Mexico, May 20, 2021
Original title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi
English title: Spirited Away
Duration: 120 min.
Production: Studio Ghibli
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Photography: Atsushi Okui
Genre: Fantasy Anime
Awards obtained: more than 50, including the Oscar and the Berlin Golden Bear.