Movie Review: Spirited Away (2001)

Title: Spirited Away
Release Date: 20 July 2001
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Production Company: Studio Ghibli

10-year-old Chihiro Ogino (Rumi Hiiragi) is traveling with her parents to a new home (not unlike My Neighbor Totoro) when they get lost on road through the forest that leads to a mysterious tunnel.  They find that the  tunnel leads to a mysterious village with restaurant stands and a bathhouse which Chihiro’s father surmises is an abandoned theme park.  Eating the food, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs and Chihiro finds it impossible to escape.

Chihiro finds she has to request a job from Yubaba (Mari Natsuki), the witch who runs the bathhouse in order to have any hope of rescuing her parents.  She finds help from a mysterious boy, Haku (Miyu Irino), who may have nefarious purposes, as well as the boiler maintenance man Kamaji (Bunta Sugawara)  and a fellow worker, Lin (Yoomi Tamai).  Chihiro’s ensuing adventures are absolutely bonkers in the best possible way, some of the most imaginative fantasy sequences ever set on film.  It’s also refreshing that Chihiro resolves her predicaments not with violence or magic, but with compassion.

There are some parts of this movie that are a bit, well, gross and sometimes it guess a bit intense.  So be warned if you’re squeamish or watching with young children.  But overall this is a magnificent, fantastical film that I think just about anyone should enjoy.

Rating: ****1/2