Blu-ray Review: The Secret World of Arrietty | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Secret World of Arrietty

Studio: GKIDS

Nov 16, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Thirteen-year-old Arrietty lives with her mother and father in the walls of a sprawling country manor. She and her family only stand roughly three inches tall; their people – if there are more of them – refer to themselves as “borrowers.” They’ve survived for generations by taking only the things they need to survive from their human hosts’ homes: things like sugar cubes, biscuits, or tissues, which won’t be missed. A sick, young human boy moves into their host’s house; he has heard stories of the “tiny people” who live under the floorboards from his mother and grandfather. He only wants to befriend Arrietty, but being seen by a human could put the borrowers’ whole existence in danger.

Inspired by the classic children’s novel, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, Studio Ghibli’s adaptation of Arrietty’s tale feels oddly traditional. Perhaps it’s because the story is nothing out-of-the-ordinary (a brave young heroine learns to trust an outsider), or perhaps it’s because the setting doesn’t feel nearly as fantastic or magical as most of Studio Ghibli’s productions. (Arrietty’s miniature size lends itself to some clever moments, but the scale isn’t something we haven’t seen before in other animated worlds, from The Rescuers to Toy Story to Chip and Dale to Fern Gully.) Or, maybe it’s missing a bit of the Miyazaki touch: the brilliant director passed off his script to animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi shortly after the project was announced. It’s still a good movie and one that children will probably enjoy watching over and over, but judging it among the other Studio Ghibli films that are part of this reissue campaign – a few of which are among the greatest animated films of all time, mind you – it falls into a very perceptible lower tier.

GKIDS’ new Blu-ray release of the film comes with the original, Japanese-language audio track, as well as the U.S. English dub – featuring Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and Carol Burnett – which was assembled by Disney. There’s a nice set of bonus features included on this one, including two interviews – one with Miyazaki, and one with the director – which are new to this release, as well as a feature-length storyboards gallery and music video. Arrietty is well worth your time, but only once you’ve made it through the rest of the Ghibli library.


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