Matt’s Flick Pick: ‘Spirited Away’

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Matthew Merchant

A witch, a bath house, a boy that turns into a dragon, a ghost or two, a giant baby that becomes a hamster…wait, what? No, this isn’t a freak show. In fact, “Spirited Away” is one of the most creative and beautifully crafted Japanese animated films of all time. Don’t worry about bad English dubbing or cultural references: the film is flawless in every way, from the script to the backgrounds and even the overwhelming sense of mystery.

A young girl moving from the city stumbles upon an abandoned train station. Following a tunnel into a different world, her parents end up turning into pigs after eating food they’re not supposed to. Setting out to find a witch, who happens to own a bath house for the spirits, and who’s also the only one who can help her, the girl soon faces an adventure. 

The film is an experience, and the world, it turns out, is filled with Japanese spirits, deities and creatures beyond imagination. It’s beautiful and rich in visual elements and storyline; it’s fantastical and magical and weird; and it’s relatable in the emotional responses of each character, from the silent ghost figure to the girl forced to face a world she doesn’t understand. This film will take you from a place of comfort into the realm of the fascinatingly frightful in a way that only seems like a magic carpet ride that’s totally worth the feeling of ‘what did I just watch?’ when the credits roll.

Contact Matthew at [email protected].