Feb. 22, 2012 - Issue #853: Folkways
The Secret World of Arrietty
This lovingly detailed film begins and ends, cursorily, with a male perspective—that of sickly Shawn, come to his mother's childhood home to convalesce—but the truer, more heartfelt, secret world within is female, dominated by Arrietty, a girl from a dwindling, Lilliputian people. Her initiation, at 14, is her first expedition to "borrow" unmissed bits (a sugarcube, one tissue) from the immense human "beans" above them.
She and her headlamp-wearing father ascend stairs of old, bent nails inside the wiring spaces between walls; they use grapple-hooks with long ropes to lower themselves from table to floor. Outside, huge dark splotches spread on wood when rain begins falling; come morning, Arrietty brushes off dew droplets clinging to her like large beads. Insects, nearly as big as she, cavort with each other. Close-ups, low-angles and soundscapes show our world as a fearfully vast series of Everests to climb and descend. And at Arrietty's pragmatic, humble level, living with nature means being more threatened by it, and by Godlike humans. (When a wild thing collides with our tame world—a crow caught in a screen window—the trauma and frenzy are unforgettable.)
When family maid Hara, seeing borrowers as pests and thieves, captures Arrietty's mother, Hara's belittling view is soon punished, while bold Arrietty ("I'm not afraid—I'll cut them down to size") learns to trust Shawn even as she teaches him not to surrender to fatalism. The ending's perfectly bittersweet, masking, with Arrietty and Shawn's tender friendship and another exciting voyage, the pessimism of writer Miyazaki's message: every day, we adults unthinkingly trample, disrupt, or scatter the little creatures and little worlds beneath our arrogant gazes.
Directed by: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa
Featuring: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy