I absolutely love Hayao Miyazaki’s work. His animations are brilliantly detailed and so imaginative. As soon as I heard that he was coming out with a new movie, I knew I had to go see it opening weekend. So last night, I went to go watch The Secret World of Arietty with a couple of friends.
The screenplay is based on The Borrowers novel by Mary Norton about little people who live under the floorboards of humans. The main character Arietty is seen by a human boy Shawn, and the plot follows the complications that arise from Arietty and her family being discovered. I haven’t read the book or watched any of the previous movies so I can’t make any comparisons to them.
When I say cute, I mean that in a good way. The theme of friendship and trust is definitely prevalent and it’s shown through the developing bond between Arietty and Shawn. It’s also a coming-of-age story for both of these characters. There are also several humorous moments that no one in the audience was ashamed to laugh out loud at. I have to say though, my favorite parts of the movie was actually the artwork.
There were so many amazing details that I wish I could memorize, particularly details pertaining to the Borrowers’ home. For example, in a scene in Arietty’s parents’ room, the family is sitting having a conversation and in the background is a desk by the window. What really struck me was that on the desk sat a quill pen, only the quill isn’t a feather, it’s a moth wing. Normally if I see a moth wing I’ll think, ugh. But this was just beautiful. Another wonderful detail was in Arietty’s father’s workshop. It’s only for a moment, but you see her father working away and if you pay attention to his tools, you’ll see that his collection includes a pair of nail clippers among other things. Even the details in the cups and bowls that they use were so intricate. The mug set that Arietty’s family uses is of card suits, each mug with a different suit. I want that mug set!
Details aside, this movie definitely has a different vibe from Miyazaki’s other works. It’s very kid-friendly. More so than Spirited Away, which had some pretty intense themes and creepy characters. (Can you imagine being 10 and watching your parents turn into pigs and then having to work in a bath house for spirits???) There’s also no good vs evil battle or ecological or political themes that are present in some of his other works. While those themes are more appealing to the adult viewer, overall Arietty was enjoyable. I wouldn’t classify it as one of my favorites, but it was, as I said before, cute.