For Reel

Spirited Away (2001)
August 8, 2012, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Spirited Away may not be Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, but it is certainly his most narratively audacious accomplishment. Characters regularly shift allegiances, others transform their physical selves, nonsensical motivations arise with a uniquely controlled sense of dreamlike logic. As a sort of tribute to Lewis Carroll, Miyazaki’s journey down the rabbit hole is his most viscerally overwhelming feature, untethered from any sense of reality in a defiant resistance against audience complacency. It is so wildly overstuffed, in fact, that therein lies one of its most distinguishing traits – whereas his previous features, such as Princess Mononoke or Kiki’s Delivery Service, establish clear theses, Spirited Away is about so much that it almost risks being about nothing. With hardly a moment’s notice, it deals with Miyazaki’s familiar environmentalist themes before shifting to material greed or the quest of finding one’s identity. The chaos is deliberate – isn’t such a sense of displacement and confusion one of the foremost defining attributes of adolescence? Just as the No-Face character transforms from menacing threat to humbled ally, Chihiro is met with a number of value judgments as she begins to arrive as a woman.

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