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25.01.2015
Arrietty is an almost 14-year-old borrower in Studio Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty. She is voiced by Bridgit Mendler in the United States dub, and Saoirse Ronan in the United Kingdom dub. Arrietty is extremely inquisitive, adventurous, and always willing to help, no matter the consequences or the risk.
Arrietty's open-mindedness shows when she refuses to judge all humans by the few who are evil (like Haru); in her successful befriending of Shawn, she shows a theme of the movie. A spirited and passionate sometimes-daredevil, Arrietty is all the more powerful because she is motivated by her high degree of familial loyalty and compassion.
While she has a number of outfits, including several that are never worn, but are seen spread out on her bed (for example, there is a green jumpsuit with long pants and tons of pockets), Arrietty's favorites seem to be two comfortable red dresses, one with a turtleneck collar and long sleeves, and one with a nicked collar and short sleeves. Arrietty and her family have to be very resourceful if they are to survive in their little unconnected world where goods are made only for "Beans" (humans). This is Arrietty's weapon of choice, and not only is it a symbol of her ascension from "Daughter of Borrower" to "Borrower," but it's also very useful; she uses it to cut the seran wrap on top of the jar her mother is trapped in, and thus successfully complete the rescue mission. She is also seen using a green spoon (before she finds the pin) to ward off a cockroach larger than she. When Shawn is locked into his room by Haru, Arrietty displays her resourcefulness by getting out onto the roof, squeezing through the window to a different room, climbing up the curtain with human earrings as hooks, and pushing the window latch open, thus allowing both Shawn and herself to get into the rest of the house to find Homily.
None of this intelligence, though, would be useful without Arrietty's adventurous nature and courage--she seeks a more interesting and fulfilling life and if it means competing with grasshoppers for nuts and flowers or risking the dangers of human interaction to save her mother, then so be it.
Though the film is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the hand of Hayao Miyazaki seems to be the dominant autuerist influence, as it is with almost all Ghibli films. The perception the borrowers have of the world is deliciously designed, with water forming into thick beads and bugs bursting with personalities that vary from amusing companions to alarming threats.
The Blu-ray has a few things going for it, including a viewing of the film in its storyboard form, Japanese trailers and commercials for the film, and a couple of music videos by Bridgit Mendler (who voices Arrietty in the film) and Corbel. Red Tails: Part of me is really interested in seeing this, being a red-blooded, meat-eating, beer-drinking male who loves a good war flick.
The titular Swope is the lone black guy on the board of a high-profile ad agency who is accidentally voted into power when the chairman suddenly dies. For over two decades, the enchanting traditionally animated features of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata’s Studio Ghibli have been awing audiences at home in Japan, and increasingly around the world. The directorial debut of Ghibli animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Arrietty was penned by Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa from Mary Norton’s 1952 classic The Borrowers, which has been adapted into live action movies many times in the past few decades. The film centers on Arrietty (voice by Bridgit Mendler), a small but spunky 14-year-old “Borrower” who lives with her parents (Will Arnett, Amy Poehler) under the floorboards of a suburban home, unbeknownst to the home’s owner and housekeeper (Carol Burnett).
Rather than a straight adaptation, the Studio Ghibli team opted to update Mary Norton’s novel to take place in modern-day Japan, and imbue it with the studio’s trademark finesse for conveying emotional relationships, human quirks and the inherent magic of the natural world. As director Yonebayashi divulged in an interview with film journalist Rob Carnevale last year, Miyazaki was the mastermind behind the project, and had actually wanted to adapt the book some 40 years ago. In fact, Yonebayashi is the youngest ever director of a Ghibli feature, and the first animator to be moved up into the role.
For North American version director Rydstrom, the task of properly translating a foreign language film is still a surprisingly intricate task, despite his previous experience on Earthsea.
The director is very appreciative of the entire adaptation team, which included writer Karey Kirkpatrick, whose job it was to take the flat, literal translation and breathe and characterization into it. The Ghibli films can be particularly tricky because of the vast differences in the language.
In their turn, the unimpeachable voice cast were similarly challenged by the need to match mouth movements with mathematical precision while still sounding natural.
The careful editing allowed some flexibility with the voice performances, Rydstrom notes, insisting that when it becomes a choice between getting the right feeling or hitting the synch, the performance wins out every time.
One of the “cheats” Kirkpatrick used, as Rydstrom reveals, were to add in or extend shots where the speaking character is off camera or has their back turned.


Contributing much to the efficacy of the translation is the incredible voice cast that Disney has assembled. Fans of Japanese animated films and series are always curious (and at times annoyed) about what changes will be made to “Americanize” the characters and stories they have been so eagerly waiting to see. After going back to read the books in preparation for the project, Rydstrom says he was struck by how well the original film captured the feeling of the stories. The global scale of Arrietty’s influences extend even into the music, with a score from French composer Cecile Corbel (who also wrote and recorded the lovely theme, “Arrietty’s Song,” in Japanese, English, Italian, French and German). This project could truly be considered a metaphor for the growing interconnectivity of the animation industry, and the world in general. Touching moments like these are just a small part of what is sure to make this animated take on Mary Norton’s tiny heroine into a very big star. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser for some features of this website to work correctly. In truth, the best kids movies are treated with as much seriousness and stylistic prowess as a live-action art flick for adults. She's uncompromisingly courageous and eager to be a part of bigger things, both in the literal and figurative senses.
She befriends Shawn because she sees the traditional boundaries between their two worlds as conditional and outdated, and because she understands that associating with him is worth the (calculated) risk because he, being a human, can help her situation like no one else can. She uses a tiny red clothespin-like object to hold her chestnut hair back when she is adventuring, and after she finds her pin, she carries it everywhere, along with her lasso and satchel. So they use staples as ladder rungs and tape stickers as climbing devices, and when Arrietty finds a pin in the kitchen of Aunt Jessica's house, she immediately sees its potential as a sword. Whenever a new Ghibli film is released, one could be forgiven for simply assuming it’s him directing. When he arrives, he spots what appears to be a tiny human-like girl scurrying through across the leaves of a bush. The sound design deserves special mention, as the music of crickets, the hum of the air conditioning, and the tick-tock of the grandfather clock further adds shades to an atmosphere that constructs a living, breathing world that these tiny characters inhabit.
The other part of me is still grumpily butthurt over pretty much everything George Lucas has been involved with in the past couple of decades. Unfortunately I missed this horror film in the theater but I look forward to catching up with it. As much as I loved most of his films growing up, this one I could never really get into, which is surprising since I love fantasy ideas like air pirates and floating kingdoms. Relentless and ruthless, it leaves you breathless with laughter, and mouth-agape in disbelief. Thanks to its partnership with Disney, the works of this acclaimed studio are being brought to American viewers with faithful English-language theatrical releases with reliability and skill. Disney’s English-language version is directed by Disney’s Gary Rydstrom (Lifted, Hawaiian Vacation, Tales from Earthsea U.S. When a new human boy named Shawn (David Henrie) comes to live in the house, he spies Arrietty during her first “borrowing” foray, and their secret friendship risks putting her family in grave danger. The traditionally animated film has been widely praised for capturing the sense of scale of the world seen from the point of view of its tiny protagonist, and for the startling moments of humor and wonder derived from it. Miyazaki had said, ‘Let’s make a heart-rending story.’ Then, considering that younger members were assembled for this project, I wanted to capture a beautiful world that is full of vigor, just like the fresh sprouts springing to life,” the director explained.
Miyazaki tapped the 38-year-old artist after admiring his work on the studio’s 2008 hit, Ponyo. The key was in finding ways to keep the new dialog natural and expressive within the confines of the original animation, and remaining true to the characters and the film—with the added challenge of balancing fealty to the Japanese adaptation as well as the English novels.
This was somewhat alleviated by the efforts of supervising sound editor Jonathan Null, who delicately manipulated cuts between syllables and takes to enhance the character performances as well as match movements. As Rydstrom notes, the characters’ distinct personalities are so evident in the animation that the actors were easily inspired by watching the film.


Because Ghibli put such a priority on being true to the heart of the books, little of such tampering was required. He also marveled at how “incredibly British” the books were, and how that quality survived through both iterations of the film in details like a beautiful Victorian doll house meant to lure the little people. Japan’s Studio Ghibli, well-known to critics, continues its legacy of sophisticated anime with The Secret World of Arrietty.Based on Mary Norton’s famous children’s novel, The Borrowers, the film focuses on a family of very tiny, very human-like people. When she is not borrowing or travelling, she wears a yellow dress with a copper top and copper shoes.
Will Arnett in particular,  is uncharacteristically soft-spoken voicing Arrietty’s pragmatic father. When the perception of the characters shifts from humans to borrowers, the way the sound is delivered changes in order to reflect experience based on the size of the character in a manner that goes beyond simply pumping up the volume. Disney’s latest import is The Secret World of Arrietty, which premiered in Japan in 2010 and has already grossed $126,368,084 worldwide.
Yonebayashi strove to provide a fresh perspective and a richly detailed world for Arrietty to inhabit. OK.’” The team also took advantage of wide shots during long speeches, especially during scenes where Shawn (the human boy) is out in the large, open garden. Amy Poehler’s frantic, excitable worry-wart mother plays hilariously against the almost supernaturally calm dad, Pod, voiced by Will Arnett.
Although even Rydstrom admits he is not quite sure where the decisive line lay—for example, Shawn’s name was changed from Sho, and his great aunt Jessica’s from Sadako, while the housekeeper Haru retains her Japanese name. It is a shared appreciation for story telling and the magic of animation that brings such well-loved characters to life in new and exciting ways each year.
Living in fear of humans, Arrietty’s parents decide they must move away when Shawn discovers their existence, but when a person with less-friendly intentions finds out about the presence of the borrowers, Shawn may be the only person capable of helping them survive and stay together.
Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, who helped with American takes on Ponyo and Persepolis, also executive produced the new version. Rydstrom believes that Bridgit Mendler—a relative novice in the voiceover arena—particularly shines as Arrietty. Unfortunately for Arrietty, fraternizing with the housemate Shawn, a human of terrifyingly regular height, renders her living situation short-lived.Despite its roots in American literature, Arrietty eschews its western ties and disappears into the eastern tradition of Studio Ghibli’s gorgeous, pastoral-focused animation. Shawn is also of interest, as he seems to suffer alone as the specter of possible heart failure looms over him, but of course, his interactions with Arrietty give him a solid arc. This is a film in awe of its environment.Better yet is the film’s maturity, its sincere and honest confrontation with dark themes, proof that a movie’s mass appeal does not rest with its targeted audience. Few figures in animation are as poignant and as victimized as Shawn, the sickly human boy who befriends the eponymous borrower. Characterized by a rare fatalism, Shawn accepts the prospect of death if surgery fails to correct his heart condition. This separates Ghibli from other dumbed down, kid-friendly studios who avoid such pronounced pessimism.Despite plunging its audiences into a fantasy, Arrietty maintains enough humanism to reflect the nature of life, just as a proper fable should. When they are discovered, they move away from the “bigger people” of the world in search of a better life.The film’s sound mixing reflects the movie’s technical skill and demands the audience’s attention. As the camera cuts between kitchen appliances, the audience hears her fear in the form of every noise that one associates with daytime kitchen use. The sounds echo frighteningly throughout the night, but only in her head.For all its professionalism, The Secret World of Arrietty, like the borrowers themselves, is a scaled down version of Studio Ghibli epics such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Howl’s Moving Castle. It lacks the scope, the ambition, and the imagination of the studio’s bold earlier works, which defied logic and convention. Arrietty is just all too familiar, barely above predictability.Nevertheless, Ghibli remains the Godzilla to our Pixar, making waves in our domestic animated film industry and doing it with class.




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