When I was younger I had a blue carpet and yellow walls. We slept in bunk beds and our room was lined with books. A small desk flipped down from the bookshelf and two rickety chairs faced one another, often piled high with clothes. Curled up within my duvet, I used to look out of our bay window, and wonder how God saw me. I became smaller and smaller until my house became the humble abode of dolls, and the streets outside contracted into fine pencil lines curving into the 3D map of a Borrower’s Kingdom.
Studio Ghibili’s re-production of the Borrower’s film, Arrietty, beautifully recaptures that feeling in their hand drawn animation. Arrietty is the story of a lone borrower family whose adventurous daughter is caught one day by the young ‘human bean’ Sho. Suffering from a heart condition, Sho’s world is shaded in a decaying pallet of gray until he meets the feisty teenager who uses bay leaves as an umbrella and a pin as her equivalent of a sword. As the tale unfolds the animators delicately illustrate the flowering of a friendship which not only causes both antagonists to re-dress their world perspective, in the process loosing impregnated socio-cultural prejudices, but it is the ignition for the survival and the will to live which Sho, and sometimes we, need.
The skilful audio track enhances the sense of space which reverberates throughout the human world, drawing the audience into the very intimate perspective of the borrowers. It also provides a gently mocking look at our world, the beauties and fears that swarm throughout our forest/gardens, which we rarely take the time to notice. The gift of a miniature flower holds all the symbolism of a bouquet, when we train our scope onto the miniature.
Arrietty is a charming film that brings Studio Ghibli another step closer to the Western audience. Though not as daring as Spirited Away in its plot, it still carries the Ghibli charm, talent, and simplicity of a touching story.