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The Secret World of Arrietty (Karigurashi no Arrietty)

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Studio Ghibli has announced their next film -- Karigurashi no Arrietty -- and it's an adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers.

The film will be directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who worked as an animator on previous Ghibli films (e.g., Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away).

The original, Carnegie Medal-winning 1952 novel revolves around the "little people" -- 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) tall -- who live underneath the floorboards of an English country house. (The Japanese title literally means "the little people under the floor.") 14-year-old Arrietty and the rest of the Clock family live in peaceful anonymity as they make their own home from items "borrowed" from the house's human inhabitants. However, life changes for the Clocks when a human boy discovers Arrietty. Ghibli's adaptation will transport the setting from 1950s England to the Tokyo neighborhood of Koganei in 2010.

More info here and here. The film's Japanese website can be found here.

Edited by SDG

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This is great news, thanks. This is one of the first books in the stack to read to the bairns as they get a bit older.

I seem to remember liking the live action one.

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Teaser trailer.

Looks gorgeous. Can't say that I think using the same pan footage twice was a good idea, especially in so short a trailer. When I saw the shot repeated I thought the trailer had looped.

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Twitch has just posted a very positive and in-depth review of the film, which just screened at the 2010 Rome Film Festival:

In every other aspect, Karigurashi no Arrietty is a strong reassessment of the expressive power of hand-drawn animation. The moving and gentle narrative style of Yonebayashi might be less impressive than the one displayed in Miyazaki's wondrous worlds, or less cultured than the directorial touch of Isao Takahata. But it is, nonetheless, personal and effective. Yonebayashi's approach to animation seems moreover deeply aware of an important side of the Ghibli style, that a couple of years ago the animation director Kitaro Kosaka expressed with these words: «Ghibli films [...] show the world we passively live in from a whole new perspective. For example, we may have lost interest in blades of grass: however, I hope that someone, after having seen blades of grass in a Ghibli film, moving and transfigured by the detailed stylization of the drawings, will find a new pleasure in looking carefully when passing by a real meadow». What Yonebayashi accomplishes in Karigurashi no Arrietty is the artistic equivalent of a curious and passionate gaze at the world. It is enough to agree with something Miyazaki said, with relief, after the first screening of the film: «I felt a director appeared, at last».

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Here's a longer trailer of the English dub.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL0iRR97w-s&feature=player_embedded

How different from The Borrowers this is! (The movie, I mean--I haven't read the book.)

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The rhyming narration was rather annoying

Making the movie seem dated and cloying

At least they didn't try to rhyme Studio Ghibli

Nothing rhymes with that, except Ned Schneebly.

Edited by Tyler

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Nothing in this trailer makes me very excited.

Jonsi warning.

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Reminder to self: Tyler is not easy to get excited. :P

I, on the other hand, am thrilled to hope that this new Ghibli director will have a really fine debut.

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Wow, until David's comment, I had forgotten that Miyazaki was not directing. I hope all of the bombast in the trailer was inflicted by Disney (which I deem highly likely, since they could screw up a soup commercial), but among all the cacophany, the animation and themes look so Miyazaki-esque (as opposed to merely Ghibli-esque, since Miyazaki's fellow director Takahata has his own very distinctive style).

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The film will be opening in the States on February 17, and at 1,200 screens, is receiving the widest release of any Studio Ghibli film to date.

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Disappointingly, I missed a chance for a very early screening in January due to the March for Life, but I'll be seeing it on Thursday. I think it looks utterly charming, and I have high hopes that it will be lovely, though I'm not hoping for the transcendence of a Miyazaki masterpiece. If it even approaches the achievement of, say, Kiki's Delivery Service -- one of my favorite Miyazakis, in spite of its lack of fantastical imagery -- I'll be over the moon.

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Disappointingly, I missed a chance for a very early screening in January due to the March for Life, but I'll be seeing it on Thursday. I think it looks utterly charming, and I have high hopes that it will be lovely, though I'm not hoping for the transcendence of a Miyazaki masterpiece. If it even approaches the achievement of, say, Kiki's Delivery Service -- one of my favorite Miyazakis, in spite of its lack of fantastical imagery -- I'll be over the moon.

If the reviews I've read so far are any indication, then I think you'll be over the moon. For example:

Studio Ghibli is often assumed to be the animation house that Hayao Miyazaki built, but Miyazaki has directed only nine of its 17 features to date. Four were made by studio cofounder Isao Takahata and four by four different directors. These latter four, however, are all immediately identifiable as Studio Ghibli products, from their spunky teenage protagonists to their pictorial realism in everything from the play of shadows through the trees to the raising of sticky windows.

The latest, "Kari-gurashi no Arrietty (The Borrowers)," features direction by veteran Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi and a script by Miyazaki himself. It is a simply told, beautifully animated delight that, like the best Ghibli films, speaks straight to the heart and imagination of the child in all of us.

[...]

Miyazaki reportedly selected Yonebayashi to direct "Arrietty" for his animation skills. There are few of the flights of animated fancy, from the dazzling to the bizarre, that Miyazaki has made his trademark; instead, Yonebayashi and his team (with Miyazaki supervising) have created a world that is both gorgeously detailed and thrillingly realized from the perspective of its miniature protagonists.

Edited by opus

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Two questions:

Wasn't this same book the basis for this 1997 John Goodman film?

AND

Has anyone read the book, and if so, would it be appropriate reading for second-graders?

Edited by Christian

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My pre-k daughter and I found it really boring and stopped reading it. Norton has a very heavy writing style that we didn't like very much.

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Color me happy and enthusiastic, though I stop short of "over the moon."

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Two questions:

Wasn't this same book the basis for this 1997 John Goodman film?

AND

Has anyone read the book, and if so, would it be appropriate reading for second-graders?

Yes, yes, and possibly. I grew up reading the Borrowers books, but although I was a very precocious reader, i think I was eight or nine when I first read The Borrowers. I'm not surprised that the book was "boring" for a 3-4year old, since it has chapters & just a few B&w illustrations, as I recall. She might like it better in a few years.

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Yes, yes, and possibly. I grew up reading the Borrowers books, but although I was a very precocious reader, i think I was eight or nine when I first read The Borrowers. I'm not surprised that the book was "boring" for a 3-4year old, since it has chapters & just a few B&w illustrations, as I recall. She might like it better in a few years.

She isn't really daunted by lack of pictures, as we have read through several image-less children's books with great pleasure. Perhaps she will revisit it later, but Norton's style is simply unattractive compared to others of her ilk.

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Yes, yes, and possibly. I grew up reading the Borrowers books, but although I was a very precocious reader, i think I was eight or nine when I first read The Borrowers. I'm not surprised that the book was "boring" for a 3-4year old, since it has chapters & just a few B&w illustrations, as I recall. She might like it better in a few years.

She isn't really daunted by lack of pictures, as we have read through several image-less children's books with great pleasure. Perhaps she will revisit it later, but Norton's style is simply unattractive compared to others of her ilk.

I don't think I need to clarify, but just in case: I had asked about the appropriateness of the material for second-graders, not pre-K. I get the sense that Beth would be in favor, while Michael is saying the book won't work well for kids of any age.

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My review.

The Secret World of Arrietty just might change the way you look at the world around you — right around you. A wide-eyed sense of discovery and revelation permeates the film, and what it reveals is ... the mystery and wonder of an ordinary home.

Written by animation master Hayao Miyazaki and directed by animator and first-time director Yonebayashi Hiromasa, The Secret World of Arrietty follows in the footsteps of ultra-gentle Studio Ghibli family fare like Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Ghibli films are renowned for painterly animation rich in authentic detail—yet seldom if ever has a Ghibli film, or any film, looked quite so closely and lovingly at the trappings of ordinary life: at floorboards and molding, bricks and tiles, ivy climbing a wall.

The Secret World of Arrietty looks closely at these things because its heroine Arrietty, a Borrower, is only about four inches tall. Her “secret world” is in the hidden spaces under floorboards and within walls, but the ordinary spaces of the house are no less magical.

My one caveat:

Arrietty is a winsome protagonist: spirited, coltish, wide-eyed, eager to take up the family trade. With her hair pulled back in a tiny butterfly clip and a found pin at her side like a sword, she feels ready for anything — a soul sister to the titular heroine of Kiki’s Delivery Service. It must be acknowledged, though, that where Kiki inhabited a world full of engaging personalities, Arrietty is the most personable character in her film.

I don't know if Miyazaki creates his wonderful casts of supporting characters in the directorial process, but it's that, more than anything, that sets Kiki (and, on this level at least, Ponyo) above Arrietty. If Arrietty's supporting cast were as wonderful as Kiki's or Ponyo's, this would be a masterpiece. As it is, it's pretty terrific.

Edited by SDG

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Would Arrietty be too much for a four-year-old? Simon loves My Neighbor Totoro, and I do want to encourage his love for all things Studio Ghibli.

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Would Arrietty be too much for a four-year-old? Simon loves My Neighbor Totoro, and I do want to encourage his love for all things Studio Ghibli.

I'm inclined to say no, it's not too much for a 4-year-old. A few menacing insects and rodents are seen, and a cat leaps at the borrowers a couple of times, but those aren't exactly scary moments. The movie's most manic scene has a crow fly into a window and flap its wings violently.

Anything I'm missing, Steven?

I saw it with my 9-year-old daughter and spent some of my time wishing I'd brought my 5-year-old son, FWIW.

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I plan to bring my entire family, including my 3-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old son.

Again, my review (with content advisory: "A couple of mildly frightening moments. Fine family viewing").

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BTW, this film is another great example of how unnecessary 3D generally is. Studio Ghibli's 2D stuff is far more imaginative than most 3D films aimed at kids or adults.

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Glenn Kenny's come up with my favorite tweet-length description of Studio Ghibli style:

Japan's Studio Ghibli makes animated films the way Faberge made ornamental eggs.

And more:

It's always great to see an animated film that's pitched at kids but doesn't pander to them. As is always the case with films from this studio, there isn't a Smash Mouth song within 100 miles of these proceedings. And its modulations are a welcome break from the freneticism usually associated with such fare. While it doesn't offer much in the way of "sophisticated" content for adults, it brings something much more valuable, really: genuine aesthetic bliss.
Edited by Overstreet

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