I’ve roped today’s “Weekend Flick” to fit my year-of-anime celebration! Today I’m going to review the special Ghibli film that got me to give anime a second chance: The Secret World of Arrietty.
I’ve always loved the idea of little people. I devoured a book series called The Littles when I was growing up–I still have them all in a box somewhere–and the idea of living in a normal house’s walls was so creative to me (the irony is that I’ve still not read the original Arrietty novel.) Arrietty shared common ground with a childhood love, so it turned out to be the perfect film to open my begrudging “anime is odd” eyes.
The Secret World of Arrietty
2010 | 94 minutes | G
Shawn, a boy of poor health, arrives at his aunt’s home for a week of nature and calm. However, minutes after arriving, Shawn caught a glimpse of something scampering through the bushes. It was a tiny person, an adventurous Borrower girl named Arrietty, who lived beneath his aunt’s house with her parents, a family who “borrow” things from the house to survive. It’s the very week in which Arrietty is old enough to go “borrowing” with her father and the fateful meeting between the forbidden worlds occurs….
Arrietty on a whole was whimsical, creative, simple, breathtakingly beautiful, and endearing–I was swept off my feet within the first five or ten minutes. It wasn’t a rousing epic or a heart stopping adventure, but it had its own thrills of awe and beauty and heart. It was a simple story of friendship and connection, but the unique clash of size and realities made it extra special.
I liked both Shawn and Arrietty a lot. Although Arrietty made a few mistakes, like revealing her existence and consistently doing her own thing, she never came off as bratty or stubborn or annoying (unlike a few Disney Princesses I can name.) She was merely a brave, spirited, curious fourteen year old who felt very relatable. Shawn was also a likable character, though he didn’t do very much for most of the film–reasons of why were revealed later.
I watched the dubbed Disney version of Arrietty, so several names were changed, like Sho to Shawn. Since I’ve yet to see the original version, I can’t really compare the two. However, the English dub is exceptional here! I loved Leslie Knope and Will Arnett’s acting as Arrietty’s parents. Knope gave Arriety’s mom a lot of personality with her voice, and Arnett’s deep voice was perfect for the calm and rather underrated bad*ss character Pod.
When I first watched Arrietty, I was very impressed with the Borrower parents. At that point, I was used to animated parents never understanding their children or always putting them down (it seems to be stereotype for western animated parents to always misunderstand their kids–irritating to say the least.) Arrietty’s parents loved her unconditionally and didn’t put her down for her mistakes at the end of the story. That really impressed me.
The attention to detail in the animaion is half the reason this film is so delicious. The raindrops, green nature, and the sunlight is gorgeous. Boring objects like sugar cubes, fishing hooks, and sewing pins became precious within the hands of the Borrowers. I especially loved Arriety’s home–the stamps on the walls for pictures, the wrist watch that made wall clock, the chess piece set as a fancy statue in the hall–so many normal things used in clever ways! I missed half of them on my first watch, so I highly advise a second rewatch to truly appreciate the clever detail!
A highlight of the entire experience for me was the original score. It was filled with lots of Celtic influences that worked flawlessly with the spirit of the film. It definitely lifted select moments to special heights and helped guide the story’s emotion at just the right moment. I loved this soundtrack so much that I actually bought a CD of it and I play it at night sometimes when I’m having a hard time drifting to sleep.
Arrietty is a gorgeous work of art, from the animation to the music to the story’s simple message of friendship. It is also very special to me, being my first Ghibli film! For sentimental reasons, it gets an extra half a star! 😉
Thank you, Arrietty, for being such a special film!
Star Rating: 5/5 | Rewatchability: High | Definition: Tiny People, Big Hearts