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Capt. Sage's Review of the Film:
The Secret World of Arietty

This animated feature-length film based on the novel "The Borrowers" was made by the acclaimed Studio Ghibli, and provides an interesting story for all generations. In our own theater experience, young children understood and were interested by the story, and older people were as well.

The storyline is clear and thoughtful, and its calm pace allows for danger and drama at appropriate places. The characters are very good, extremely understandable in their motivations, and seeming to be like people that you've met. Their voice actors portray them very well.

The movie also has beautiful backgrounds, and the sense of scale always exactly right, which is crucial in a movie about fantastically miniature people who are known as Borrowers. Some particularly interesting details were added, such as the father of the Borrowers, Pod, using a small forge to perform soldering to make small electrical devices. Tea is also poured in droplets because of the difference in surface tension at their scale.

The movie's locations were designed well, with a very good sense of place all the time. The movie is set in Japan in a single large house, but there are still many varied scenes, from gardens to bedrooms to a stream.

"The Secret World of Arietty" has created a very beautiful world, populated by interesting people. It was a pleasure to see it, and it was a credit to the continuing power of the novel.

 

SPOILERS

I've never read the novel, but have seen other film productions of the story. The setting was changed for this movie from England to present-day Japan, but this did not end up changing things too much for better or for worse.

Hara was played just right for her role as an antagonist. Having her played so well was a great enhancement to the crisis of the plot. It established a danger for the main characters, Arietty and Sean, without feeling unrealistic.

I also felt that the movie established an appropriate tone for Arietty and Sean's relationship. Sometimes movies feel obligated to have the leading lady and man be desperately in love, but this movie did not fall into that trap. The movie also didn't go overboard in an attempt to establish a romance between Arietty and Spiller, but instead produced a more realistic and amusing story for them.