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The Secret World of Arrietty

A Japanese Anime film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (original Japanese release) and Gary Rydstrom (U.S. release)

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Sometimes its the simplest films that leave the most impact.

  • Apr 18, 2013
My love for Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli know no bounds. With each film they manage to capture the magic, the art, and the heart that make films great. Even what I consider their weaker films, such as Ponyo or Kiki’s Delivery Service are good films and always leave me smiling and happy (well, with the exception of Tales From Earthsea). The Secret World of Arrrietty is no exception, and in many ways I believe serves as an example of one of their better films.  It’s not as grandiose as Princess Mononoke or Nausicaa, nor is it as imaginative as Castle in the Sky or Spirited Away, but what it lacks in these areas in more than makes up for in style, heart, and awe inspiring beauty. To take such a simple film, with such basic conflict, and turn it into such a great film as this is really a testament to the kind of studio Ghibli is, and the quality of films Miyazaki creates.
When I was in college my creative writing teacher drilled into my head over and over, “character, character, character,” for even the simplest of stories can take on a life of their own when inhabited by people we know and care about. That is the strength of all Ghibli films, but this one especially. Arrietty is a fantastic character who runs the gauntlet of believable emotions and personal conflict, anywhere from excitable and curious, to guilt and remorse. By the end of the film we really feel as if she’s grown as a character and learned from her experience in a way that would feel forced in most children’s movies today but in the talented hands of Ghibli it’s all very natural. With as simple a story as this is it really relies upon the characters a great deal. A young boy named Shawn has come to visit the house his mother grew up in to rest and prepare for heart surgery he fears he might not survive. While there he stumbles upon a young borrow named Arrietty who, along with her father, was attempting to borrow a lump of sugar for her mother. Over time Shawn and Arrietty strike an unlikely friendship but much like your standard Romeo and Juliet story (except without the romance) the differences between them keep vying to keep them apart.

Everything in this movie is wonderful. The animation is stunning, I might even be tempted to call this Ghibli’s best animation yet. The music fits perfectly with the visuals, the characters are rich and varied, the designs are perfect, there’s not a whole lot I can say in the realm of negatives. One thing I really loved was how big and menacing they make our world look through the eyes of Arrietty. Sure, from our perspective there’s nothing scary or dangerous about a kitchen, but when you three inches tall something as simple as getting some tissue paper can be a daunting task.
I’ve rambled enough. Simply put, if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli or just like a good family film, you really owe it to yourself to see this movie. By the end I had teared up just a little bit, not because this movie is sad, but because it’s just so damn beautiful.  Hey, Ghibli films will do that to you.  I love this film, and I’m sure you will too.
Replay value; high. 

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April 20, 2013
excellent headline and superb write up! I also enjoyed the way the animation has that familiar yet personal rendering in them. Nothing beats great characters and storytelling...
April 20, 2013
Nope, nothing. This movie really is something special.
More The Secret World of Arrietty reviews
review by . February 18, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Amazing, Enchanting, Mesmerizing Japanese Anime About A Very Little Girl and a Young Boy....
A few years ago, Disney bought the distribution rights to several of Studio Gibli’s creations. I was ecstatic since it would mean that Studio Gibli’s animated films would have better access to U.S. shores but at the same time, I was also hesitant since I was afraid that they would not include the original Japanese language track, and if they did, it would not be the default language in the dvd releases (no 5.1 Dolby usually). Well, seems like director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s “The …
review by . May 25, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Secret World of Arietty isn't exactly a new film.  Like many Studio Ghibli films it was released in Japan long before it was brought here to US Shores.  But also like so many of those films it is very heartwarming and takes it's audience pretty seriously.  It's an enchanting film.  It has a couple of strange things that keep it from being perfect, but it's definitely close to that.      The movie focuses on Arietty and her parents.  …
review by . February 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi's directorial debut hasn't the compelling novelty of Hayao Miyazaki's classics nor the dramatic rigor of Isao Takahata's contributions to the Studio Ghibli canon, but its reflective ambiance and technical merit warrants the venerated animation studio's imprimatur.      Though here transposed by Miyazaki's script to Japanese setting and idiom, admirers of Mary Norton's The Borrowers won't find a better adaptation in …
review by . February 18, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Perhaps I’m just artistically deficient, but I find the look of anime unappealing. It’s not the backgrounds so much as the characters, especially their faces, many of which are drawn according to a fixed iconography that essentially cuts corners in the ways of expression. You see this with their mouths, which may adequately put forth smiles or frowns but consistently fail to suggest the illusion of vowel sounds, which are more complex …
Quick Tip by . February 14, 2012
posted in ASIANatomy
Studio Gibli made this movie....'nuff said. Any anime fan knows how good they are.      Based on the story "The Borrowers"....I wish they were showing this in the original Japanese Language.      See Full Review Here.     
About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #13
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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About this movie


  • Opened February 17, 2012 | Runtime:1 hr. 35 min.
  • G
  • Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger.
  • Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, David Henrie, Moisés Arias
  • Director: Gary Rydstrom
  • Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated,/Fantasy
  •  Poster art for "The Secret World of Arriety."
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    Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama, Fantasy
    Release Date: 2010.7.17 (Japan), 2010.9.9 (South Korea), 2010.11.30 (France), 2010.12.25 (Hong Kong), 2011.7.29 (UK), 2012.2.12 (Australia), 2012.2.17 (USA, Canada)
    MPAA Rating: G
    Screen Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
    Runtime: 94 minutes
    Studio: Studio Ghibli, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Mitsubishi Shoji, Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Toho Company, Walt Disney Company
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