“ARRIETTY” HUGELY FUN
If you like the live-action film “The Borrowers,” you’ll love this film based on Mary Norton’s four inch-tall Clock family.
Upshot: A boy (Henrie) living with his aunt discovers a family of tiny people who borrow small items from the big folk.
The Clock family’s daughter, Arrietty (Mendler), longs for the adventure of accompanying her father (Arnett) on his journey to borrow one sugar cube and a blanket of tissue paper. They
get seen by the boy, but he’s not the problem. The major conflict occurs when his aunt’s maid (Burnett) finds the floorboards disturbed . . . .
“Arrietty” differs from the other Studio Ghibli movies that I’ve seen in that we don’t see a magical spirit world. The fact that tiny people live in houses suffices in that respect. But very much in keeping with the Ghibli spirit, Arrietty is inordinately curious, decent, and brave. The animation is incredible. Staggering attention to detail. Detail in every respect. The reality of each little action–and this film is big on little–takes on a somehow philosophical dimension. There is beauty in the steps taken to negotiate the dangerous world of living in the cracks.
If I can think of another movie that shows as much scintillating joy in reproducing the
natural world, it’ll probably be one from Studio Ghibli. There is a richness in the hand-drawn
animation altogether different from what we see in computer-generated features. I don’t think it’s
light years better, but it’s hardly an exercise in futility.
As the voice of the maid, Carol Burnett steals the show. Nobody does funny and mean like
Carol. (If you’ve ever seen “The Carol Burnett Show,” you’ll get the inside joke why it’s perfect
casting for her to play a maid.)
My only question is which movie is closer to Mary Norton’s book? Whether it’s this
one or “The Borrowers,” I have no idea. But “The Secret World of Arrietty” is almost nothing like “The Borrowers” at all.
Got a kid? Check it out!
THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY
Starring (the voices of)
Direct by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Written by Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa
Based on the novel by Mary Norton
Running time 94 mins.