Family movie - The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty

I have been intrigued by the Japanese form of animation and remember as a child watching a cartoon popular with my generation which was many years ago and was one of my favorites, Speed Racer. I have missed out on the current animation from Japan popular with the kids today but was very interested in seeing The Secret World of Arrietty which is now in the theaters here in the US. It is based on a children's novel, The Borrowers written by Mary Norton. The film was released in Japan in 2010 and is already on dvd in that market. It was well received in Asia and Europe and opened here with enthusiastic interest. In seeing the movie I was fascinated by the animation, the attention to detail, the characters and the story. I really enjoyed it as I saw it with my son.

Arrietty is a tiny person no taller than your hand and is known as a borrower and she lives with her mother and father in a secret world within the under-flooring of a house occupied by a sick child, Sho (Sean), whose mother once lived in as a child. He is there visiting his great aunt, Sadako and is cared for by her and her maid, Haru. Sean is to undergo heart surgery and has been sick as a young child and is visiting for some rest. As he first arrives with his great aunt he sees the family cat drawn to the bushes and he gets a glimpse of what he believes is a tiny person but it happens so fast and she is gone in a flash.

He waits patiently hoping he will see her again as he lies in his bed at night resting. Arrietty is a young girl of 14 who is interested in exploring the world outside of her confines and is all excited as she convinces her father, Pod to let her join him on a journey in search of sugar as they have run out and need to replenish it. She is like any typical girl growing up seeking friendship. She has a sense of adventure and enjoys her journeys outside but is told by her parents that she must be very careful not to be discovered since it will jeopardize the family's safety. Though they are very tiny they are just like any family and you get to see what life is like from there perspective. I enjoyed when Arrietty went with her father on their journey to get a sugar cube from the kitchen of Sadako. It was an incredible adventure for them both and she followed her father every step of the way listening and learning as he navigated the way and made her aware of all the dangers. She was very proud of her dad when he accomplished his mission. He gently lowered the sugar cube to her and she placed it delicately in her back pack and they began the journey back home. She found a pin which she showed her father and he congratulated her on finding her first borrowing. She proudly tucked it away and they started their journey back home. As they were leaving the father showed Arrietty the doll house that was a perfect fit for them fully furnished. It was a dream house for them and it was made for the purpose of providing a home to a family such as them by Sean's grandfather.

Arrietty fell in love with the house and wished they could stay there as the house was a mansion to them. The father said that they had to prepare to leave now but needed to first find tissue paper. In there search they happened to land in Sean's room and she was seen by him and panicked dropping the sugar cube in her haste in escaping out with her father. Sean instantly recognized her and told her not to be afraid and that he knew he saw her in the garden in the bush. They were gone in an instant leaving the sugar cube behind.

Sean was hoping to see Arrietty again and left the sugar cube with a special note near a vent where she comes from on her trips. The father told the family that they were now in danger having been discovered and would have to plan their escape to a new home. Arrietty soon discovers the sugar cube and she leaves it. As she returns it is half gone with ants slowly chipping away at it. She grabs it and returns it to Sean. As he sees it and her shadow from the window he calls out to her to come back and to not be afraid. In a moment her life is threatened by a crow anxious to attack. She is frightened and is rescued by Sean who is delighted to finally see her and they get to talk and start what is to become a very special friendship.

Arrietty is concerned of the family's plight and feels to blame but she also realizes that Sean is special and is safe despite her father's concern. She gets to learn more about Sean on her visits back and in an encounter on the lawn she is very defensive as Sean questions life and the reality of death. Sean speaks about the sadness of life and having to grow to accept one's fate and Arrietty takes offense and says she will fight and do all she can to survive. Sean then reveals that he was talking about his situation as he is very sick with a heart condition and most likely will die. He is preparing for surgery and is concerned for his future. Arrietty is touched by him and is also saddened and realizes how special he is and also what a good friend he is.

The movie is rated G for children and it is very delightful and is a well made movie that will touch all who see it. I had tears in my eyes as I learned of Sean's health condition and I was also touched by the courage of little Arrietty and the beautiful friendship that evolves between her and Sean. The bond between Arrietty and her dad is also very special. Arrietty is a typical teenager coming of age who is exercising her independence and is also respectful of her parents. As she is talking with Sean in the garden she hears her mother scream as she is in peril after Haru discovers their family. The mother is trapped and placed in a jar hidden amongst other jars to conceal her in a pantry. Arrietty heads home to realize her mother is not there and she comes back to seek Sean's assistance in finding her. She soon discovers her mother trapped and she rescues her with Sean's help. The family realize they have no choice but to leave and Arrietty is sad because she knows that Sean is a true friend. The father is injured in a journey to find the best route out and he is rescued by a young kid, Spiller who is also a borrower. After he is rescued and brought back home he needs rest to recuperate and Arrietty sees that her dad is well taken care of.

Once he is recovered they plan their mission in search of a new place to live. As they are travelling the cat sees Arrietty. Arrietty slowly stares into the cats eyes and the cat retreats and heads back to Sean and signals him to follow. The cat leads Sean to her and they encounter each other for what sadly will be the last time. They both talk and wish each other well and Arrietty leaves her hair piece for Sean to remember her by and Sean tells her that she is in his heart and that she has taught him to be brave and live his life and they embrace and say their goodbyes as Spiller looks on ready to attack but then realizing that he is a friend and not a threat. As the story ends and they part ways you see Arrietty and her family continue on their journey and you hear Sean say that he never does see Arrietty again but he hears stories about a family in the surrounding neighborhood claiming of little things mysteriouly disappearing in their house and he believes that Arrietty and her family are safe.

There are movies that leave you with a good feeling and capture many important facets of life with a message that rings loud and clear. This movie certainly does that and what is truly special about this movie is that it is animated and it is directed by a young Japanese director in his debut, Hiromasa Yonebayashi. He does a wonderful job in creating life like characters in an animated setting with such richness and beauty. This is a movie I can see again and again and the kids will love it. I highly recommend it and am very happy that I got to see it with my son. It is one to be added to my collection when it comes to dvd.

It is a movie you will not want to miss.

Edward D. Iannielli III


The Secret World of Arrietty

Arrietty's song - English version

Arrietty's song

The Secret World of Arrietty

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