Spirited Away and the Beauty in Film

Spirited Away is a Japanese animated film, which may just be the most beautifully animated film of all time. I saw the film numerous times during my childhood, but I hadn’t seen it in a very long time until I watched it over Christmas break. I was blown away by the masterful animation. The film is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who also drew most of the film by hand. Each shot is meticulously crafted with beautiful precision and it is done almost completely without the use of computer animation. The film is also unbelievably creative with many creatures and beings created by Miyazaki and his production team that are unlike anything else.

The film is about a young girl named Chihiro, who while moving to a new area with her parents stumbles upon a spirit world in an abandoned amusement park. While exploring the deserted amusement park her parents come across a food stand and can’t resist devouring all the food in sight. To both the audience and Chihiro’s horror, her parents are transformed into pigs. Chihiro is then forced to sell her name to the evil Yabuba in return for a job at a magical bathhouse, so she can remain in the spirit world until she can rescue her parents and return home. Along the way she encounters fantastical spirits, and helps the bathhouse and the spirit world as a whole.


Image Source

The story is entertaining, but what really separates this film from other animated films is the beauty and detail in every frame. Miyazaki includes so many amazing details in each scene that don’t necessarily add anything to the story, but are included because Miyazaki wants to showcase his vast imagination and create a setting unlike any other. Many of Miyazaki’s spirits are very minor characters, yet contain unique features and are drawn with the same amount of care as the major characters. The image below shows the immense detail that goes into every inch of the frame.


Image Source

Directors such as Stanley Kubrick are often praised for the detail they put into each shot and their films are often considered the most beautiful of all time and deservedly so, but this film and many of Miyazaki’s others should be given similar praise to many live-action films in terms of beauty. If you were to pause Spirited Away at any moment you would be impressed with the animation. It is a fantastic film, which has received a ton of praise including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but I still believe it could receive even more acclaim and appreciation.

This review does a good job of describing the film and Mayazaki’s film making style.


-Walker Rise

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6 Responses to Spirited Away and the Beauty in Film

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Hayao Miyazaki, the director of this film, is by far one of my favorite animated directors. He has directed several childhood classics such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke. Spirited Away is one of his most popular works and I’m glad that he is still receiving praise and recognition to this day. Miyazaki offers and in-depth analysis within each one of his stories. In Spirited Away, the movie is filled with metaphors that causes you to acquire a new found understanding for human nature. For instance, the scene where the two ravenous pigs are displayed above symbolizes gluttony. It shows the temptation of people’s desires and Miyazaki perfectly encapsulated this idea through that scene, in particular.

    -Shelby Halliman

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Miyazaki has directed some of the best animated films of all time. The level of dedication and craftsmanship put into his work is something to be admired by any director – whether they’re live-action or animation directors – and I feel like every frame put into a Miyazaki film is given such tender love and care that any frame could be your computer wallpaper. Miyazaki is really something special and I hope his films gain more viewership, especially in America.

    – Cal Parsons

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Knowing very little about Miyazaki’s work except “My Neighbor Tortoro,” I think your love for animation films is refreshing (and quite honestly, rare). In relation to our conversation this week about film as art, I get the sense that “Spirited Away” truly speaks to the argument that great films exhibit true craftsmanship and creativity.

    – Lydia Geisel

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I heard this animation is remarkable and I’m pretty sure it won Academy Awards. It looks like a fantastic story that I need to see even though I know very little about the genre
    -Jordan Hansgen

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I watched Spirited Away for Movies, Magic and Meaning last year, and I was blown away by the artful animation as well. In being honest, I am not typically a huge fan of animated films. However, Spirited Away was beautiful. The detail is comparable to Coraline, one of my all time favorite films. While I don’t love the plot of Spirited Away, it is still enjoyable to watch.-Caitlin Herlihy

  6. mediaphiles says:

    Spirited Away is one of my favorite animated movies. Like all of Miyazaki’s animated films, there is a lot of detail in the mundane. Simple actions of putting on shoes, stumbling over one’s feet, putting on clothes, and much more are uniquely animated with detail and purpose. Simple actions that could be drawn quick are carefully constructed to add more character and charm.

    -Jake Fallin

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