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From one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animated cinema comes the most acclaimed film of 2002. Hayao Miyazaki's latest triumph, filled with astonishing animation and epic adventure, is a dazzling masterpiece for the ages. It's a "wonderfully welcoming work of art that's as funny and entertaining as it is brilliant, beautiful, and deep" (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal). SPIRITED AWAY is a wondrous fantasy about a young girl, Chihiro, trapped in a strange new world of spirits. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world. An unforgettable story brimming with creativity, SPIRITED AWAY will take you on a journey beyond your imagination. "To enter the world of Hayao Miyazaki is to experience a kind of lighthearted enchantment that is unique to the world of animation" (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). It's a fantastic tale the whole family will want to experience over and over again.~~(c) 2001 Nibariki -- GNDDTM
The most interesting extra feature on the two-disc set is the Nippon Television Special on the making of Spirited Away, not because it's significantly different from American making-of programs, but because the camera crew was allowed to film Miyazaki at work. It's fascinating to watch the visionary director explaining how individual movements should be animated, and even performing the little dance the frog-master does to welcome the No-Face to Yubaba's bath house. (Old animators describe Walt Disney giving similar performances, but no comparable footage exists.) It's also striking to see how intimate Studio Ghibli is, unencumbered by the tiers of management that burden American studios. The scene comparisons enable the viewer to study the storyboards for the film, which Miyazaki draws himself. These simple yet wonderfully vivid images capture the essence of a mood, a movement, an expression. "Behind the Microphone" offers a fairly standard behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the excellent English version of Spirited Away. --Charles Solomon
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Aging baby boomers, my wife and I have lost enough of our hearing that we usually watch videos with the closed captioning turned on. It was interesting that the DVD gives a choice of two different English language captions - a literal translation and a slightly different translation that matches the characters' original Japanese-language lip movements. If you turn on the lip-synced captions, you'll notice that the words don't exactly agree with the English language dubbing.
The four bonus features on the DVD are worth watching.
I love that we delve into the legendary spirit world of Japanese folklore. This movie, with its wonderful animation, takes you, along with Chihiro, into a mystical adventure. I highly recommend.