“A picture of breathtaking beauty”. It warms my heart to see that in this fast and mechanical world people still have the kind of imagination and visual flair which transcends the the borders of fantasy and realism with such authenticity that the borders blur. Hayao Miyazaki has proved his wizardry again and again over the years but I was never shaken by his imagery the way I was with Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi. Watching it on a sweltering hot summer afternoon in my bedroom in dull mood, I couldn’t help but notice that that during the runtime of the movie the heat just seem to give away and my mood and spirits just so seem to rise with the protagonist of this seemingly simple yet masterfully layered tale of fantasy, duty, romance and fellowship.
Chihiro(Rumi Hiiragi) and her family move into to a new suburban. while on the way, her father takes a rough road which leads them to a tunnel. Her father and mother venture out into the tunnel to see what lies ahead and end up in a place which has an uncanny resemblance to a Theme Park. Chihiro is susceptible all the way through. Her parents discover an open diner filled with delicious delicacies. They start gobbling the food while Chihiro ventures out into bridge where she is met by a mysterious boy named Haku(Miyu Irino). Haku advices her to leave right away or else she might be trapped. As Chihiro tries to find her parents and make her way out of the place, she discovers that her parents have been transformed into pigs and she is fast vanishing. Helpless and distraught, she seeks out Haku’s help who arranges for her to get a chance to save her parents by staying in that mystical Kingdom which is ruled by a Witch Yubaba(Mari Natsuki) and serves the purpose of working as a bath for the thousands of Gods and Spirits of Japan. While Chihiro tries to cope in strange world where she cant distinguish friends from enemies, her parents still wait in a Sty while she cant help but feel romantically attached to Haku.
Each of the characters in the screenplay are carefully thought after. The feel pf the movie will keep you in close proximity with the ancient tales of fantasy of Japan. There is magic, transformations, spells, witches et all. the locales are created with such imaginative thoughts that it will make you stand up and take notice. Each of the characters have a lot to add to the narratives. The surprises and the twists and turns are there aplenty which will add to the already mesmerizing visuals. Having said that, Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi works primarily because it is able to harp at those emotional strings of our heart which we are fast forgetting in the pursuit of success and riches. Through Chihiro and Sen we take a walk down the memory lanes when our parents meant the world to us. When we could simply do anything for them. We also remember those tender romantic moments which we might have shared with our love. The first touch, the first kiss, may be the first look. Its a movie which has to be felt to be enjoyed the way it is.
Some scenes will remain etched in my memory for ever like the one when Chihiro remembers Haku’s real identity and tells him about it. it is easily one of the most dramatic and heart warming romantic scene ever to have laced the silver screen. The scene in which Chihiro travels all through the Kingdom to save Haku’s life is refreshingly beautiful. I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of every frame that was passing by my eyes.
The voice talents are perfect and one couldn’t have asked for more. I don’t think we have too many animated movies which would be able to stand up to the resplendent visual artistry of Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi. It is one of the most colorful and beautiful anime I have seen till date. It goes on to show us why people still believe in 2D animations and also that no matter how far 3d animation may have moved on bu the classical image compositions and the sheer blood and sweat that goes on to making a 2d animation movie possible will never let it loose its cult status.
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi will make you feel and fall in love. I have seldom been teary eyed, watching a movie but this picture brought me closest to what can be called as getting teary eyed. How I wish this movie would be re-released again like so many other Walt Disney masterpieces. Watching it on the silver screen would be an experience in itself…!!!
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)