Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jessica Mathews- Spirited Away

Contrary to my initial ideas about Spirited Away, I was very pleasantly surprised. I love the idea of coping with change. It is time for young Chihiro to deal with moving to a new city, a new home, and making new friends. She enters this fairytale world and it just so happens that the change and ‘newness’ she overcomes there helps her deal with the change and ‘newness’ that she is afraid of in real life.

In the car on the way over to her new home she feels alone and seeks to find comfort in her flower, which also seems to be leaving her soon too. Her parents reassure her and speak with her about all the excitement change can bring to one’s life. Just as she is fancying the thought of this change, her world as she knows it changes yet again.

Chihiro must now work to overcome a new life. She most importantly wants to find her parents and turn them back from swine. In addition to this already difficult task, she is really alone now, and must try and find her way back home. As she does this, she has to decipher if the characters she meets along her journey, like Haku and Lin, are friends or foes. She must also learn a new job and how to deal with her inhumane boss Yubaba.

Miyazaki has made a beautiful film which explores the mind of a child who faces confusion and adversity in multiple realms, yet comes out of the experiences with a positive outlook on her new life. I think it is a great film for any age about overcoming the trials and tribulations of not only becoming wiser, but also about getting to know oneself better.


  1. I had similar initial ideas about Spirited Away as well. However, I didn't think she really had to decipher Haku, Lin or a lot of the characters. I felt like she learned to trust her instincts. She knew no face wasn't a huge threat until it started to want attention in hopes of not feeling lonely. She also trusted what to do with the ball of medicine.

    She also learned to cope with change with people who love and care about her. In reality, she would have her parents and friends helping her out. But, in the bath house, she had Haku, Lin, the boiler room man and many other characters. In the end, love helped break spells and even free herself from Yubaba. On top of coping with change, love played a hand in everything as well.

  2. I really enjoyed the theme of change in Spirited Away also, but I felt that there was a further undercurrent of darker change in the movie as well, especially in regards to the environment. For example, the first river spirit that came to the bath house was so full of pollution that no one could even tell that it was supposed to be a river. The amount that spilled out of it when Chihiro removed the bike was disgusting and showed how thoroughly human actions can permanently alter the environment.

    Another example of this was with Haku. He was also a river spirit, but he no longer had a anything to embody as Chihiro told him that his old river is all apartment buildings now. I found this extremely sad because though Haku may finally remember his name, human changes have made it so he can never return home.

    However, he did leave the film with a glimmer of hope. It was only Chihiro, a human, that could see past the disgusting pollution and realize that the river spirit needed help. Similarly, Chihiro was the only one able to help Haku remember his name. It seems as if Miyazaki is suggesting that though humans can inflict dark changes onto the environment, we are also the only ones that can fix the problems and that it is never too late to try. I thought this was an interestingly "green" movie.