I don’t bother watching the Academy Awards for the main reason that I rarely agree with what wins which award and I’m too aware of the politics and lobbying that takes place behind the scenes to consider any of the results to reflect anything relevant to my tastes in movies. Having said that I will admit that the one good thing about that particular exercise in self-promotion is the fact that award winners are often re-released in theaters on a bigger scale to try and soak up a few extra bucks. This is especially nice when one of the winners is an anime film that are usually limited to art house theaters otherwise. Films such as the stunning Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. Its win brought it to a screen at the local Livonia 20 theater, which is great as I missed it when it was only available at the Landmark’s Main Art Theater in Royal Oak which is a much longer drive from here. Here’s a basic plot summary:
Spirited Away is a fantasy adventure with a ten year-old girl, which starts in everyday Japan but goes somewhere very different. For young Chihiro and her family, a mysterious tunnel and haunted town lead to the Land of Spirits, inhabited by gods and monsters and ruled by the greedy witch Yu-baba. Chihiro’s parents are transformed into pigs; to rescue them, she must surrender her name and serve in this world. Luckily she finds friends and allies, including the handsome but mysterious boy Haku. Initially sulky and listless, Chihiro (or Sen, as she’s now called) finds inner strengths and establishes an identity in this strange world. But can she win back her name and return home?
Anne, Courtney and I went to see it this past weekend and I’m glad we caught it the second time around. This movie was fantastic, particularly if you’re already a fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s work. If you’re not already an anime fan or at least semi-familiar with Japanese mythology then it may prove to be a bit confusing at first, but if you think of it as a sort of asian Alice In Wonderland story, as some folks have described it, you’ll find it much easier to go with the flow. At this point it’s probably my favorite Miyazaki film to date and well worth the price of admission. If you are looking for something a little different to catch at the theater this weekend then you might want to check it out.