Spirited Away and the critique of Capitalism
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2016 marks the 15th anniversary of Japanese animation film Spirited Away (2001), one of studio Ghibli’s best-known releases, and its most successful. I was five when the movie first came out, and remember being terrified by it. In fact, it’s only during the past winter break that I bravely decided it was time for me to give the film another chance. I’m glad to say I don’t regret this decision one bit. Spirited Away lingers on you for a long time once you’ve seen it, a trait so particular to great films. It deals with ten-year-old Chihiro, who becomes an employee at a spa-like retreat for worn down Gods and Spirits, after her parents are transformed into pigs as a punishment. There is a lot to be said about Spirited Away. First, the animation itself`. Few other words than “enchanting” and “beautiful” would do it justice. It uses a wide colour palette that gives way to vivid images. The Spirits and other characters range from sweet creatures to creepier ones. This all allows for a mystical, intriguing, and eerie setting for Chihiro and the viewers themselves. Perhaps the reason why this film has so much appeal for children and grown-ups alike is because its themes resonate with us all. Indeed, at the heart of Spirited Away lies a real critique of Capitalism and consumerism. It begins with Chihiro and her parents moving away to a new province, in their gleaming Audi car. The child is gloomy over being separated from her friends and old life. Soon, they get lost in an abandoned town, where her parents feast on a freshly made banquet. Chihiro’s dad reassures her that he has “cash and credit cards” to pay for the food, before devouring it in a voracious manner. They then get transformed into literal, capitalist pigs, as a punishment for eating a meal meant for the Gods.
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