SPIRITED AWAY (SEN TO CHIHIRO NO KAMIKAKUSHI) (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St.
Saturday, October 1, Howard Gilman Theater, $20, 7:00
Friday, October 14: Francesca Beale Theater, $20, 4:00
Festival runs September 30 - October 16
Prepare to have your spirits lifted up and away in this sensational animated feature from Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki. Ten-year-old Chihiro is unhappy about moving to a new home despite her parents’ best efforts to convince her otherwise. When her father takes a wrong turn on the road, the family ends up in an oddly deserted village that ten-year-old Chihiro soon finds out is a lot more than it seems. Chihiro’s adventures through this dreamlike, surreal, magical place filled with bizarre characters and evil beings are unforgettable, with nuances and references from such diverse works as The Wizard Of Oz and The Seventh Seal. The sheer visual beauty of the animation is staggering; many of the backgrounds are reminiscent of Impressionism. The film includes the voice talents of Daveigh Chase (Chihiro), Jason Marsden (Haku), Susan Egan (Lin), Michael Chiklis (Chihiro’s father), Lauren Holly (Chihiro’s mother), Suzanne Pleshette (Yubaba and Zeniba), John Ratzenberger (assistant manager), David Ogden Stiers (Kamaji), and Tara Strong (baby Boh). Joe Hisaishi’s maudlin music is way overpraised, as usual, but this Japanese box-office champ deservedly won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and was named Best Asian Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have also made such adult-friendly animated treasures as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Dleivery Service (1989), and Porco Rosso (1992). Spirited Away is having two special screenings at the New York Film Festival this year in honor of the marvelous fairy tale’s tenth anniversary; if you’ve never seen it, the big screen is definitely the way to go.