The Secret World of Arietty
While not a Miyazaki-directed film, he was part of the production team and helped plan the story. This movie was based on the children’s story called “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton (it’s a very detail-oriented book, rightfully so) and is part of a series of books. So if you loved The Secret World of Arietty, and you like to read, then this is perfect. This film carries all the artistic beauty and charm of Miyazaki’s worlds. Hisaishi did not do the soundtrack, and at first that put a sad frown on my face. But Cecil Corbel did a very nice job incorporating the different themes into the music. Being that this isn’t exactly a Miyazaki film, that’s okay.
The story begins with Shawn, a depressed boy with a heart condition, arriving at his aunt’s house to rest up before a major, and possibly fatal, surgery. That evening, Arietty embarks upon her first “borrowing” mission and is consequently spotted by Shawn. He is friendly to her, thrilled to discover that his aunt’s superstitions about the existence of borrowers is legitimate. Initially, she refuses any involvement with him and lets him know that they are preparing to move out because of his discovery of them. He doesn’t wish them to go, but the housekeeper, a conniving greedy “anti-borrower”, finds Arietty’s mother and attempts to expose the existence of borrowers. With Shawn’s help, Arietty saves her mother. They leave the aunt’s house, but not before Shawn is able to let Arietty know that their courage and will to survive has given him hope and courage to fight for life.
Arietty is a free spirit, and somewhat proud in the beginning of the story. But she soon realizes that her and her kind are not as invincible as she’d like to think. When Shawn informs her that her kind is dwindling from existence, she insists that they will survive. He in turn is impressed by her spirit.
This is essentially a basic story, somewhat lacking in the emotional pull that Miyazaki typically achieves in his films. The story is fun, albeit a little slow, but it’s quaint in a youthful wonder. It’s a tale of friendship and how each friend helps and builds each other up.
I feel that the climax of the movie was when the borrowers were leaving, not when Hara the housekeeper was cheated out her “big” discovery and the mother was saved. I wanted the humans and borrowers to become permanent friends, but in the end, the borrowers moved away despite Shawn’s help in saving the mother/wife. It’s a tough world, right? Apart from the crow stuck in the window scene, it’s a very pleasant and humdrum movie. It didn’t annoy, but it didn’t excite, either. There’s not a whole lot of depth to it other than preservation and hope. Common Ghibli themes.
It’s certainly worth a watch, especially for the eye candy, but the story isn’t really that captivating.