Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Stars: Daveigh Chase, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers and John Ratzenberger
If you want the math, fine—Spirited Away is the most successful Japanese film of all time, with box office receipts totalling nearly $275 million.
If you want the art, here goes nothing—Spirited Away, Miyazaki's eighth feature-length animated film, is a pure expression of cinema. It's a dream the viewer falls into. It takes you to a place you can't get to by any other means.
The story is simple, as it should be. A little girl, Chihiro, is moving with her family to a new home. On the way, her parents take a detour that deposits the family at what looks to be an abandoned amusement park. From there, Chihiro finds a bathhouse for spirits, where she becomes trapped.
The themes of childhood alienation and loneliness are prominent, but trulySpirited Away is plain magic. The animation, most of it hand-drawn, feels alive in a way that has nothing to do with computers and everything to do with the power of the human body acting in accordance with limitless imagination, a hand illustrating the impossible.
Be with this movie. —RS