Miyazaki's first digitally animated feature (the highest-grossing Japanese film ever) initially seems like a Through the Looking-Glass fantasy, but rapidly picks up a resonance, weight and complexity that make it all but Shakespearean. Chihiro, a sullen and resentful 10-year-old, is moving house with her parents when they stumble into the world of the Japanese gods - where the greedy parents are soon turned into pigs. Chihiro bluffs her way into a job in the resort spa run by the sorceress Yubaba, but at the cost of her human name and identity; she becomes Sen. With her links to her own past slipping away, she finds an ally in Yubaba's factotum Haku, a mysteriously powerful boy who also has a lost identity behind him. Never remotely didactic, the film is ultimately a self-fulfilment drama that touches on religious, ethical, ecological and psychological issues. (There's also an undercurrent of satire: Miyazaki admits that Yubaba's bath-house is a parody of his own Studio Ghibli.) No other word for it: a masterpiece.
|Release date:||Friday September 20 2002|
Cast and crew