Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

Review of Hayao Miyazaki's film
   Chihiro is a ten-year old girl, who is feeling pretty low as her parents decided to move to another town. On their journey to their new home, a path which they thought to be a shortcut leads them to a mysterious tunnel. Driven by their curiosity, Chihiro's parents want to see what is on the other side, despite their little girl's fear and protests. Their walk brings them to a strange apparently deserted town. There, they greedily eat some food left unattended in a shop, while their daughter refuses and walks off. Soon she encounters a young man who tells her humans are not allowed in this place. Night has fallen and countless strange creatures have awakened. Chihiro runs away back to her parents only to discover with horror that they have transformed into pigs. As she flees in terror, she realises that she is fading... can she survive in this surreal world and save her parents? And who is this mysterious boy, whom she feels she has known before in another place?
   This film, like most animation work, constitutes an incredible amount of work for a two-hour feature of such excellent quality. The human touch gives it a particular charm, which computer-generated drawings, though higher in realism and perfection, are often deprived of. The surnatural elements are subtle and delicate; they add a discreet grace to the images. The images are ravishing and the backgrounds wonderful. The story is incredibly rich and original; simultaneously unsettling, surrealist, weird, funny, enchanting, scary, harsh and sweet. The music efficiently captures this complex mood and is truly beautiful, eerie and graceful, especially the piano's light ethereal notes.
   Touching, moving, this film leaves in the heart a touch of poetry, of magic, awe and sweetness which remains long after it is over. A highly sensitive work of great beauty and humanity, radiating most in the scenes between Haku and Chihiro. Definitely not to be missed, this is a journey into the often forgotten or sacrificed dreams of youth. The director rightly claims this is a tale for all those who are 10 ... and those who used to be 10.
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