Photos - The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro
Okayyy....slow weekend. I'm guessing everybody is off for Labor Day. I was given a slate of high-resolution screenshots from the theatrical releases for Miyazaki's last three features - Spirited Away, Howl and Ponyo.
I think I'm going to stick with the Japanese title, translated, of course. I just like the way it sounds. Ghibli's movies are given such flowery titles. American movies have always been very short and functional, really just a grunt or two to let you know what you're getting. Explosions! Slasher Flick! Rom-Com! More Explosions! Ahem.
I haven't watched this movie in a long time. I know it's beloved in the West, regarded as Miyazaki's masterpiece and all, which is a bit strange considering this was just about the only one they've ever seen. Oh, well. I think you can enjoy this picture as pure escapism, without paying much attention to the cultural details. The Japanese elements are smoothly integrated into the background, so it's not necessary to notice. It's not as explicit as Pom Poko, which was a visual encyclopedia of Japan's rich heritage. Miyazaki evokes the archetypes without calling them by name.
This movie really stands apart from the rest of the Miyazaki canon. It feels like a clean break from his past, as close to a true original as anything he's done. Perhaps he really wanted to get away from his more serious side, and felt purged at last after Mononoke's enormous success. But then again, we find ourselves hurled right back into the thick of things again, in Howl's Moving Castle, which felt like a fusion of Horus, Heidi and Nausicaa, reforged as one of Fellini's great surreal circuses.
So Spirited Away managed to achieve a universal appeal, and that's a good thing. It was never created as such, but these sort of things just happen. And this really is a spectacular film. I remember watching it on the big screen, reading stories on the intertubes about this movie that's "even better than Princess Mononoke." Could such a thing be possible? I left the movie theater completely awestruck.
Enjoy these photos. They're very large, so be patient when clicking on the full-size.