It all begins in a car containing Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl, and her parents. As they are on their way to their new house, they stop in front of a mysterious tunnel the leads them to a seemingly abandoned amusement park. But when night falls, it turns out that this strange place is inhabited, and Chihiro's parents have breached the laws laid down by the residents. To save her mother and father, who were punished for thinking they could do whatever they liked, Chihiro must confront, with the help of a mysterious young man, the witch Yubaba.
Spirited Away is perhaps the most beautiful of Hayao Miyazaki's films. From the moment we see Chihiro, a little 10-year-old girl sitting in the back of her parents' car, she pulls on our heart strings, owing to her sadness at having to make a move that she did not choose. But her apparent fragility and self-doubt mask great courage of which she herself is not yet aware. A marvellous coming-of-age odyssey awaits. Her sensitivity gives her the strength to rise to the challenges she faces. Hayao Miyazaki starts with a classic device - a passage from one world to another - before addressing the difficulty of growing up and introducing us to a creative universe awash with curious creatures from the Japanese fantasy world. Without ever diminishing our astonishment, Chihiro's journey through the spirit world offers a critical vision of Western society through the prism of Japanese mythology as well as medieval European fantasies. The great master of Japanese animation cinema once again manages to move us thanks to the extreme detail in the drawing of the characters' expressions. Joe Hisaishi's very delicate music adds a crowning touch to this work of art, which is full of improbable encounters, including some of the most beautiful ever seen in an animated film.Read more Show less
Spirited Away is for children as much as adults, although very young kids may be upset by the heroine's - and thus the viewer's - confrontation with an utterly strange world full of dangers. We recommend this film for age 8 and over.