The beginning of Spirited
Away always scares my children. Chihuro, a 10-year old girl who has just
moved away from the life she knew, ends up exploring some nearby ruins with her
parents. Inadvertently they stumble into an alternate fantasy world filled with
ghosts and spirits, and her parents are turned into pigs when they end up
gorging themselves on food that isn’t theirs. Chihuro is then forced to make
her way through the strange world, looking for a way to save her parents.
The film is a beautiful fantasy straight out of the mind of Hayao Miyazaki, whom many consider to be the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney. One of the things that is so remarkable is that it doesn’t pander to audiences; there are not long, drawn out explanations for why the world is the way it is. Instead, viewers share the fate of Chihuro, experiencing the sights and sounds and inhabitants of the spirit realm with no one to guide them.
What makes this film inspiring, however, is Chihuro’s gumption and what she learns on her journey. She’s faced with some tough odds, essentially becoming an indentured servant in the bathhouse that serves as the center of the world. But she perseveres, learns to rely on her own strength rather than cowering in the corner, and in the end triumphs over the witch who seeks to trick her. She’s a wonderful role model, and one who’s lead I hope my own children will follow.
~ Evan Derrick
92 - Cry the Beloved Country»