- Series: BFI Film Classics
- Paperback: 121 pages
- Publisher: British Film Institute (July 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844572307
- ISBN-13: 978-1844572304
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,699,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Spirited Away (BFI Film Classics)
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'...thorough and well written, covering a number of bases. For any student of animation, fan of the movie, or just someone with an interest in anime generally, this is an insightful study and valuable tool to understanding one of the key anime films in recent years.' - Neo Magazine
'Andrew Osmond does a fine job, not only expertly breaking down Spirited Away's myriad signs and wonders, but acting as a cultural translator to boot.' - Empire"
From the Back Cover
Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is
Japan's most successful film, and one of the top-grossing 'foreign language'
films ever released. Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative
fantasy, at once personal and universal. It tells the story of a listless little girl
who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse,
where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train
runs across the sea.
Andrew Osmond's insightful study describes how Miyazaki directed Spirited
Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in most popular cinema,
using the film's delightful, freewheeling visual ideas to explore issues ranging
from personal agency and responsibility to what Miyazaki sees as the
lamentable state of modern Japan. Osmond unpacks the film's visual language,
which many Western (and some Japanese) audiences find both beautiful and
bewildering. He traces connections between Spirited Away and Miyazaki's prior
body of work, arguing that Spirited Away uses the cartoon medium to create a
compellingly immersive drawn world.
Top customer reviews
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The first half goes over the production, technical aspects, and the people behind the creation of the film. The content is only surface information, written to be easily understood and probably not very useful to anyone deeply interested in production. I think the DVD of Spirited Away has extra features which cover much of the same information. This section also covers some general information on Studio Ghibli which can be found in dozens of other books on Miyazaki or anime. The information on the company is not used to directly offer understanding to Spirited Away, so it feels like it's just taking up space.
Of interest to me in the first section is how Osmond easily dismisses the film as being a disjointed narrative due to creative differences between Miyazaki and one of his staff. This was annoying to me since I got this book because I think the film's narrative is interesting and brings the film together fairly well. And yet Osmond does not further explore these criticisms or offer an alternative view for his argument on the narrative structure. It gives me the impression that Osmond doesn't really understand this film enough to offer a deeper perspective, so he dismisses it instead.
The second half of the book is about the film itself, and was why I purchased the book. The trouble with this section is that it is a chronological summary of the film with lightly dabbled commentary. The commentary is not especially insightful or always present; the film ending, for instance, is summarized without commentary or further exploration.
The overall effect of this is, for instance, that No Face is brought up once for every appearance he makes, but is never really discussed. If Osmond had gathered up all his separate summary/commentary on No Face and put it together in one section, he could have more effectively used that space to explore the creature and what it's doing in the film. Instead, there's no analysis, no useful exploration, and no depth to the content of the book. The same goes for all major themes, motifs, the other characters, and plot elements; Osmond states when they show up, and might make a comment on it, (some of which are even interesting,) but none of it is discussed.
I bought this book thinking that it was meant to offer deeper insight into the film. This book doesn't do that. I'm not sure what this book is intended for, or who is meant to read it. Since I've seen the film, I don't need to be told what happened in the film, so this book isn't for me. If you've seen the film, you don't need this book.
If you're somehow unable to watch Spirited Away and want to experience the film vicariously through a summary, then you might be interested in this. Otherwise, you can probably gain more insight yourself by just watching the film again, or watch the film with the commentary on, or check out the DVD extras.
Not only does the written speak wonderfully of the animation itself, but defends it's story, and places the film in a realm few films touch, one for kids and adults without irony.
Mr. Osmond brings up everything from tracing Miyazaki's Marxist roots to the films he's making now, and even discusses a bit on anime fanboys discussing the animation autuer on internet forums.
Well worth the read and has honestly made me loved the film even more.
I don't think an entire book is necessary to analyze a film - perhaps just 5 to 10 pages at the most. The book itself didn't have much artwork, and I thought the film was a little too over-analyzed. For some reason, the author keeps hinting that certain scenes have a sensual element to them, which I didn't see at all. I like reading about movies, but find that a well-reasoned review tends to be enough written about a film. Film is a visual and emotional art form, and does not have to be analyzed too deeply to be enjoyed.