#141 Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayshi

I grew up watching the BBC version of ‘The Borrowers’ in the 1990’s and I can still remember little bits of it quite vividly, but doing it in Ghibli animation… It’s inspired!

When Sho is sent to convalesce in his mothers childhood home with his great-aunt, he learns the tales of the little people who have been believed to live in the house, and then has the great privilege of meeting one, a young ‘Borrower’ girl called Arrietty. SHe lives with her parents under the floorboards and within the walls of the house, at times ‘borrowing’ and making use of discarded or unneeded items that the giant humans are done with. However, Sho meeting Arrietty breaks their rules and way of life prompting her parents to panic and look to move, plus to make matters worse the housekeeper Haru is determined to find the mythical little people and get rid of them herself.

This story suits the medium of animation very well, and the inherent charm of the Ghibli style is a perfect fit for it. As we get to see Arrietty early on she’s not held as much of a mystery, and so we are treated to a lovely view of their world. Ghibli always has the skill of finding the charm in small things seen differently, often from a childs viewpoint, and here that skill is put to full use, showing objects that are used in one common way by humans, and then in a totally different way by the Borrowers.

I watched the English-language dubbed version, not the ‘American’ one, which features such actors as Amy Poheler and Will Arnett, but the U.K. one with Saoirse Ronan (The Host) as Arrietty and Tom Holland (The Impossible) as Sho. I thought it was a bit of a shame that Saoirse Ronan used much more of a neutral ‘British’ accent rather than her own very pleasant Irish one, but generally the voices were all very good, and though I’m not usually a fan of dubs, in animations such as this they’re really not an issue.

Along with the good voice cast, there’s a great use of sound. To really emphasise the logical thought that little people would notice little things, even the very smallest usually insignificant sounds are clearly heard, giving an idea of what it might be like to be Arrietty.

Studio Ghibli films often include some moral or message woven into the story, usually in a very subtle way. In this instance Ghibli wonderfully makes Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’ into a story about endangered species, not forcing the point, but suggesting that their population is dwindling.

This really is one of the best Ghibli films I have watched so far. I know I have quite a few more to get through before I will have seen them all, but I hope I find myself enjoying more of them as much as I did this, it is a perfect combination of a charming story with this beautiful animation style that works incredibly well.

arrietty-posterClick on the poster to watch the trailer on YouTube.


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