*** "SPIRITED AWAY" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Sep 15, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Spirited Away". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I'll repost my comments from the San Francisco International Film Festival subtitled screening:
    Spirited Away is a coming of age fantasy film about a little girl that takes her into a world of spirits, gods and witches. Hayao Miyazaki uses both traditional animation and computer graphic imagery to tell the story he also wrote. The results are simply amazing.
    The film has very intricate plotting and storylines. I actually found the film to be challenging only because it deals with certain themes that I am not familiar with namely, Japanese traditions, mythology, history, folklore, culture and its current society.
    I suspect that the film’s success outside of its home country will depend on one’s knowledge in these certain areas. However, the film provides enough narrative so as not to leave an outsider totally in the dark. In addition, after discussing the film with other festival attendees, my appreciation for the film is that much more enhanced.
    Spirited Away is full of allegories and metaphors. It is all the more special because Miyazaki tells us the old Japan and its heritage and what it has now become through the use of special and interesting characters. Metropolis may have gotten the visuals right. But what that film lacked in storyline, Spirited Away certainly makes up for it with its rich storylines and depth.
    It is also interesting to note the humor that was used in this film. They were spread out throughout the entire film and placed at just the right moments.
    ~Edwin
     
  3. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    Caught the Japanese subtitled version of Spirited Away on Friday.
    Chihiro and her parents are moving to a new town, and on the way, a detour sets in motion a chain of events that plunge the little girl into a mysterious, frightening, and fascinating journey. The film offers moments of stunning originality and depth, both in the visuals of character design and location, and (as Edwin mentioned) the intricate plotting. I would also love to hear a more comprehensive list of of the influences in Japanese mythology, culture and folklore which appear to have provided the foundations for Spirited Away's main message and themes.
    The voice acting was uniformly good all around, especially the repressed and stalwart Hako-san, and the consistantly disoriented but wise-beyond-her-years Chihiro/Sen. Some of the voice acting some may find a bit 'shrill,' but I felt it kept in step with the characterizations.
    There are moments and scenes in Spirited Away that are undeniably crowd pleasers. Two scenes that immediately spring to mind are the stink god/river god cleansing sequence & No Face's descent/corruption & redemption inside the bathhouse.
    Some of the 'animal sidekicks' will provoke laughs not unlike those in Disney films, but the creatures here (at least in the original Japanese language) do not resort to anachronistic wisecracks and pop culture humor. There is no attempt to appease a wide audience in that fashion; to the contrary, the world we see in Spirited Away is wholly unique, something out of a dream. By the end of the film, you will have memorized every path, each building as if you have been there yourself because the visual aesthetic is so well realized. This is going to be a must-own on DVD, and I highly recommend it to all ages.
    To illustrate my point, an older couple (in their 70's) sat on my right and two younger kids sat on my left. As the credits began I heard the old man exclaim "that was awesome" at the same time the kid did, and there was a generous round of applause.
    Such visionary storytelling should be rewarded. Highly recommended!
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (out of 4)
    Joseph
     
  4. Dana Fillhart

    Dana Fillhart Supporting Actor

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    I loved this movie so much, I wanted to bring this thread back to the top.
    This film is my #1 of the year thus far, and I can see already a great struggle within me for that spot come December 19th! Before this wonderful movie, I absolutely knew The Two Towers was going to sit on the throne, but now, I'm not so sure!
    Read my short review here.
     
  5. Michael St. Clair

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    Here are my impressions. We went Saturday night. I didn't rush to post here because I wanted some time to reflect on it.
    Miyazaki is one on a VERY short list of directors that I automatically go to see any of their films any chance I get. He writes wonderful stories, but the TELLING of the stories is where he really shines. He manages to create a setting, an aesthetic and a mood that, in his best films, I find absolutely hypnotic. The character development of Chihiro is the heart of this story, but the setting for the story is a spirit world, an alternate dimension, that seems almost fully realized in the span of two hours. One gets the feeling that there are a multitude of stories that could be told of the denizens, places, and happenings of this spirit world. This world feels even more 'complete' than the worlds that many of Miyazaki's other films, and that is some accomplishment.
    The showing was dubbed (despite being advertised locally as subtitled), but I thought the dub was pretty damn good. I've seen some scenes of the subtitled asian DVD, and I think I will prefer the sub, but I have no major complaints about the sub. Chihiro is a little whiny in the localized version. Regardless, I didn't mind leaning back and focusing more closely on the visuals than I would be able to on a first-time viewing of a sub.
    When Mononoke showed here, they put it on a screen with only 50 seats (this independent theater emphasizes art films and has six screens ranging from 50 to 250 seats). 'Spirited Away' was shown on a screen with about 140 seats, and it was almost full. Hopefully a sign of continuing progress. The age of the crowd ranged from 7 to about 70 (there were several children AND several senior citizens in the audience). I was concerned that the children under ten would talk during the movie, but the entire audience was silent and respectful throughout the entire two hours. Wonderful! Like I said, hypnotic. I like the deliberate, patient, pacing of this film. If the film were 90 minutes it would probably not evoke the contemplative, practically meditative state that it brought about in me for much of the film.
    Four stars, absolutely as good as it gets.
    I eagerly await buying this on localized DVD with both English and Japanese tracks, and (hopefully) true subtitles.
     
  6. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I saw it today. Absolutely sensational.
     
  7. William Lee

    William Lee Agent

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Can't give enough praise for this film
     
  8. Arman

    Arman Screenwriter

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    Ok, not 6 stars ([​IMG]) but an absolute best, A+ from me. I already gave my tribute to Spirited Away in other threads but anyway I want my voice to be counted/heard in this one before the "supposedly bored" by this real instant classic & masterpiece will post theirs.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I put this film on the same level as Disney’s best such as ‘Snow White’. An enchanting masterpiece. I agree with Edwin in that it probably helps to have some knowledge of Japanese culture, but it is in no way a requisite.
     
  10. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    A great many movies can make me laugh. A few movies can make me cry. There are countless movies with the ability to make me feel sour and uncomfortable and beaten down through assaulting me with violence or hate (most of these I choose not to watch for that reason).

    Spirited Away belongs to a much smaller class of movies, the ones that sweep me up out of my theater seat and onto a journey whose destination is unknown until the closing credits roll. In fact, I'm not sure the journey ended when the lights came up. Clearly, this journey was taken in the company of a master storyteller.

    At some point early in the movie, my nonsense-plot detector began to stir. We've all sat through movies that pile one outrageous plot twist and non-sequitur on another until we just don't care what happens next. It's a modern cliche, in fact. Conversely, there are the movies where at every moment we know exactly what will happen next as the screenwriter grinds through the mechanics of whatever formula is being used.

    To my amazement, it quickly became clear that Spirited Away is the very rare experience of a movie where I never know what's going to happen next but I am just dying to find out. I'm still not sure I can recall exactly where we travelled in each portion of Spirited Away but it was a most unexpected and memorable journey that I'm looking forward to repeating when the DVD is released.
     
  11. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    I've already voiced my affection and enthsiasm for this film elsewhere on HTF. I think it was easily the best film of 2002, and it sufficiently honors and expands the through-the-rabbit-hole genre.
     
  12. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

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    i just watched it. ultra cool animation. but. any of you understand what really happened in the movie? what was it all about? i really want to appreciate what john lasseter brought to USA from japan, so please help me.

    i really hate it when you guys hype a movie like crazy, and i rented it ASAP, but then left the movie with a sore forehead.

    does anybody care to retell the story scene by scene in great detail here? because i have too many questions to ask...
     
  13. Adam Horak

    Adam Horak Stunt Coordinator

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    I bought the DVD yesterday and watched it. I really loved the film, but I dont think I understood it completely. I get the feeling there are just way to many references to Japanese mythology and culture for me to fully appreciate it. I still loved it though. Probably the best animated film that I think I have seen.
     
  14. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Visually this movie is amazing and uses animation to the utmost in depicting a wonderfully realized and often humourous world.

    OTOH the story was little lacking and may have to do with Edwin's comments. I truly enjoyed the movie but it didn't engage me emotionally like I thought it would.

    There were some truly humourous bits.
     
  15. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Producer

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 5!
    Visual filmmaking at its finest! Extremely high probability of repeat viewings!
    [​IMG]
    Time to familiarize myself with the director's other works!
     
  16. JustinCleveland

    JustinCleveland Cinematographer

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    I first saw this film a couple of weeks ago, and was enjoying it tremendiously... but then something changed. The first three-quarters of the film were mysterious and intreguing, guiding you blindly through a world we couldn't possibly understand. But perhaps it was the rush that was needed to wrap the film at around 2 hours, but it seemed like they wanted to tie everything up as quick as humanly possible. It seemed to clean, the way it was wrapped... it lacked the curiosity for the future that was held in Castle in the Sky, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or even Final Fantasy. I really, really enjoyed this movie, I thought it was great, but it was dissapointed by the ending. It probably didn't help that I watched it in a couple of days, along with Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, and Kiki's Delivery Service.

    I'm no Anime freak, and I really don't like the form, but I've begun to enjoy the director's work!
     
  17. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I just sat down to watch this film last night. Like Justin, I'm not a huge anime fan. In fact, this would probably qualify as my first exposure to it (and Miyazaki).
    I was mesmerized by the depth of the animation. Miyazaki has delivered more than just a cartoon. Each scene has a rich feel and texture to it.
    And the story, as bizarre and otherworldly as it was, was fascinating to me.
    I was pleased to see Disney left the story as original as possible to Miyazaki's vision. I always become a bit of a cynic when Disney's name is on something.
    I would recommend this movie to anyone who is remotely interested in anime. If you think you'll feel wierd watching a cartoon... trust me, the level of detail in the sights and sounds will make you forget it's a cartoon.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Deleted by administrator. This is an Official Review Thread. Please review the guidelines for what does and doesn't belong here in the first post above.
    M.
     
  19. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Uh-oh.
    [​IMG] I didn't like it. [​IMG]
    ...
    It was beautiful and original in concept, I'll certainly say that, but I just did not get it.
    I felt Spirited Away was disjointed, trying to create too many threads that I didn't feel were fully explored to the depth they should have been, in particular the sisters' rivalry, the baby's abduction, the fate of the other abducted girl, and the whole story of Haku. WAY too much time was spent on the garbage spirit and I found Chichiro's parents particularly cold and unbelievable.
    The quality of the animation was woefully lacking in its depiction of the characters. Chichiro too often reminded me of the gape-mouthed brat kid in the Speed Racer series and Yubaba was no better with her gay 90s hairdo. The animation deserved a more fluid, classical, feel. In short, it needed a higher cel-per-second count. Throughout the whole thing I kept thinking, 'imagine if they used classical Disney animation techniques with the anime style.' As it was, I couldn't keep it out of my head that I wasn't watching a long TV cartoon; the animation was that poor.
    In a lot of ways I wanted to like this film given all the raves it has but I just couldn't. The story was and plot elements were unusual and I liked the feel that the animators were trying to convey, but in the end the quality just wasn't there.
     

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