The Secret World of Arrietty


The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

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Most everyone knows the general story of Mary Norton‘s ‘The Borrowers’. A family of really small people, in this case four inches, lives in the confines of a nomral families home, making a living off of borrowing their things. It was made into a movie here in the U.S. in 1997 with John Goodman and Jim Broadbent. Well in 2010, Studio Ghibli decided to give this story a go. In 2011, a UK dubbed version was released, and that is the version that I will be talking about, but it also came out with American actors voicing it this past weekend on February 17th.

The characters are the same from the 1952 book. Arriety, voiced in this version by the lovely Saoirse Ronan [Hanna, The Lovely Bones], is the daughter of Pod and Homily, voiced by Mark Strong and Olivia Colman respectively. They live underneath a house where Sho, a boy with some sort of serious illness, has recently moved in while he awaits surgery. When out on some of her first serious borrowing trips, she is discovered by Sho. He’d like to befriend Arrietty and her family, but Sho’s caretaker Haru [Geraldine McEwan] has other plans.

The movie is not directed by the head of the company, Hayao Miyazaki. It is directed, rather, by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who has worked his way up the ladder at Studio Ghibli. His first job was an in-between/clean-up artist for the Miyazaki film ‘Princess Mononoke’, and worked his way up to animator, key animator, and finally director. This being a story that is well known, and with the screenplay being written by Miyazaki, it would be hard to mess this one up. That being said, Yonebayashi does a really fine job in taking us to a world that every one of us lives in, but not a single on of us has ever experienced quite like this. The danger is real, the excitement is genuine. While I think the average viewer age this will entertain is a bit lower than the average Ghibli film, this is still a family film that will wholly entertain them.

The most notable thing in the movie is the classic Ghibli animation. With every passing year and every new movie, Studio Ghibli perfects their craft even further, and it becomes more of a treat to see hand-drawn animation. The feel of it and the radiant, vibrant colors are marvelous. We aren’t shown a world of visual oddities and supernatural entities, but rather our own ordinary world and homes.

An example of the bountiful, beautiful and rich colors of Ghibli animation.

And as always, at the end of the day, you realize the core themes and morals that this movie has exemplified without you even knowing it, and that is the greatest gift that movies can bring us.

My Rating

 3/4 – “Arrietty” is another notch in the wonderfully impressive belt of Studio Ghibli. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi does a really fine job in taking us to a world that every one of us lives in, but not a single on of us has ever experienced quite like this. The danger is real, and the excitement is genuine. While I think the average viewer age this will entertain is a bit lower than the average Ghibli film, this is still a family film that will wholly entertain them.

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