Film review: Let yourself get 'Spirited Away'

    orothy walking down that yellow brick road evokes a certain childhood memory that yearns for escape from reality. When Alice tumbles down into Wonderland, the idea of being whisked away into a fantasy landscape becomes magical. Visions of fantasy and enchantment are conjured up in acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki’s “”Spirited Away,”” which is only matched onscreen by the likes of “”The Wizard of Oz.””

    For those unaware of his creative genus, Miyazaki is world-renowned as one of the masters of Japanese anime with a masterful eye in creating visually-breathtaking landscapes with a pain-staking attention to detail that would blow away even some of today’s CGI-enhanced counterparts. Some of Miyazaki’s acclaimed works include “”Princess Mononoke”” and “”My Neighbor Totoro.””

    With a sharp eye to details and focus, the colors from Miyazaki’s backdrops ooze with glee and joy. From the detailed marble lines of a spirit bathhouse tile to the surreal, impressionist view of a train gliding across the sea, cinema has never saturated the eyes with such a fanciful escape from reality.

    The adventure begins when 10-year-old Chihiro (voice by Daveigh Chase) moves to a new home, leaving her many friends and good times behind. Like many children of her age, Chihiro is somewhat spoiled and distant from her parents. Chihiro’s father makes a wrong turn on the way to their new residence and winds up on an isolated road that leads to what he calls an “”abandoned amusement park.””

    Enticed by the smell of food, Chihiro’s parents greedily snack on food that has been left out. Unbeknownst to them, the place is actually an enchanted land full of spirits, dragons and witches. The gluttony exhibited by the parents turns them literally into pigs. Chihiro must now discover the cause of all the enchantment and must find a way to turn her parents back into humans.

    Guiding her along this path of self-discovery and wonderment is Haku (voice by Jason Marsden), who is uncertain of his own identity. Haku is not a mere mortal — he is also a dragon and just one of the many fanciful characters in the mystical land that Chihiro finds herself in.

    When it comes to inspiration and creativity, Miyazaki shows that he is the master of his domain. From spell-enchanted sootballs that follow the direction of a six-armed man to fighting paper birds to a giant-like baby that is turned into a mouse/hamster hybrid to a grotesque Radish Spirit, “”Sprited Away”” showcases an eclectic mixture of imagination found only in places like the minds of Lewis, Tolkien and Baum.

    Chihiro’s journey is not only limited to the attention spans of children, but also to those of college students and adults. Adult themes of isolation and seclusion are abundant throughout the film.

    Those familiar with Miyazaki’s works will be happy to see that he still has that magical touch. For those who have yet to embrace or seen anime, “”Spirited Away”” is good way to escape from the world and enter that place over the rainbow.

    Spirited Away

    ****

    Voice of Davey Chase

    In select theaters October 4

    Rated ??

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