Thursday, 19 January 2012



Studio Ghibli does The Borrowers. Is it however as good as their other animated movies?

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. Inspired by the book The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

Who's In It
Wow, how to tackle this one. There's the Japanese, British and American cast, let's just say Arrietty is voiced by Mirai Shida in Japan, Saoirse Ronan in the UK and Bridgit Mendler in the US, and leave it at that.

Arrietty chatting to Shô

What I Thought
Arrietty is obviously Studio Ghibli's imagining of The Borrowers. I've not seen the original 1997 The Borrowers movie or read the book, but I have seen the recent BBC adaptation which was really enjoyable. And Arrietty is just as much fun.

The tiny world of the Clock family is beautifully animated and meticulously detailed with oversized items from the human world. For instance, there is a flower pot in the kitchen which cleverly doubled as a makeshift oven, and this is just one such example. The direction of the camera angles really adds to this small world with numerous perspectives within the film being from those of the four-inch characters.

Characters are, as usual, familiar and reminiscent of other Studio Ghibli movies. The grandmother Haru looks like Yubaba in Spirited Away. And the cat Niya looks like Catbus from My Neighbour Totoro. Arrietty herself interestingly does not however look Japanese, which is obviously the studio trying to appeal to a western audience.

The film is all about the relationship of Arrietty and Shô, a "human bean" boy awaiting a heart operation. Once Arrietty is seen by him on a borrowing trip, they become friends. The grandmother however becomes suspicious and tries to capture her and her family. Shô helps her out, even with his condition, putting himself at risk.

It's however all over way too quickly and the ending feels like the beginning of something new. It feels like the adventure could go on and on.

I have to also say a word about the excellent sound engineering. Along with the beautiful world, the ambient sounds of the outdoors and under floors are excellently done and really add an extra level to the immersion of the film.

Another beautifully animated movie from Studio Ghibli.

Things I Learned
  • Staples and nails make great stairs 
  • Plastic clips make can be used as hair clips 
  • With a bit of cellotape on your hands and feet, you can climb like Spider-Man
  • Pins make good swords 
  • Earrings can be used to climb curtains

3/5 - It's sentimental, it's good. Just don't go expecting the next Spirited Away.

I watched the film in the original Japanese with English subtitles. This is the American trailer for the same film which was released there as The Secret World of Arrietty.

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