- Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
- July 17, 2010
- Arrietty-Bridgit Mendler
- Shawn-David Henrie
- Homily-Amy Poehler
- Jessica-Gracie Moore
- Spiller-Moisés Arias
- Pod-Will Arnett
- Hara-Carol Burnett
A group of tiny creatures living inside of a country home are discovered by a sickly boy.
Featured here are a group of creatures that call themselves Borrowers. Borrowers are a tiny species of human like creatures that avoid people but will go venture into their homes to get small things to survive that humans will not miss. Technically that is theft, but I am not sure if the characters we were supposed to feel pity for talked about engaging in very petty larceny would be sympathetic.
The Secret World of Arrietty is a great fantasy film that at its core is also a coming-of-age tale. Shawn, the chief human character, is a young boy with a serious medical condition (never explained that I recall) who has come out to the country to relax and recuperate before some serious surgery. Arrietty is a young member of the Borrowers who is moving into adulthood at the hands of her father who is teaching her how to fend for herself in the world of humans.
Both characters are facing an uncertain and frightening future for them and as the story progresses, they must prepare for what is coming and put behind them their younger selves. The problems that our central characters must overcome are not shattering for the whole world be rather shattering for their world. That is not a bad thing here because the focus of the story is on these two characters facing the future in their own ways.
The central big problem of the story begins when Shawn’s great aunt Jessica, who Shawn has come to live with before his surgery, learns that the Borrowers are indeed real and even captures one. One thing I do not understand though is her near obsessive dislike of these things. I can certainly understand the character wanting to capture one to prove they are real, but she seems to actually hate them and I am not sure why.
The story of The Secret World of Arrietty is not resolved with an exciting action sequence in the finale or a big fight. It is quieter than that yet still very effective. There is a little bit of trickery and subterfuge with it all being capped off by an emotional goodbye between Shawn and Arriety. They set the stage up for the characters to have a better future and we do learn that Shawn made it through surgery and is at least doing well enough to come back again the next year and there is the strong implication that Arrietty’s family is doing well at a new home.
The animation in The Secret World of Arrietty borders on art. Wait a minute! It is art. This is something you could watch with no sound and be amazed by the beauty and the detail. One thing that really jumped out at me was something completely unimportant to the story, but it was a bit of minutia that I am not sure is often done in animation. It is in the beginning when everyone is getting out of the car and it moves. This is a smaller vehicle that is a little more sensitive to weight than say a truck or just a larger car. Try getting in and out of a Honda Accord without it reacting and you will see what I mean.
That is an attention to detail found throughout this film that pulls you into the world you are watching. These become real and lived in environments. While CGI animation could accomplish the same thing this was crafted largely by hand. And that is why after so many years The Secret World of Arrietty still looks beautiful. That is something CGI has difficulty accomplishing.
The Secret World of Arrietty is a great coming-of-age story that focuses on the characters and not on some set of action pieces. This is something you can watch by yourself as an adult or with your children so I highly recommend this!