Monday, October 18, 2010

My Friend Totoro - Hayao Miyazaki (1988)

Studio Ghibli's handmade masterpiece is a treat for the eyes but it also touches your heart. Hayao Miyazaki, the auteur of Anime, showcases one of the heartwarming animated tale ever told. Set in Post World War Japan, this story of a 10 year old and a 4 year old sisters who with their father comes to live in a countryside house. As the two girls explore the house ,they discover a Black Soot like thingy that inhabits dark and secluded places. Their Mother is suffering from Tuberculosis ,who is admitted at the hospital. But the director doesn't stress much upon mom's illness and doesn't treat it like a tear-jerk situation. Instead he handles it with maturity and hope. As they settle in their new home exploring it ,the director treats us to some well drawn images of rain clouds,lush greenery,rice fields and the ever beautiful countryside. I have to admit that this is one Gem of animations where you dream of diving into that world and live the rest of your life. What's more exhilarating is the fact that these are all hand drawn, which is an excruciating task. But the pay off is this magical piece of art. There isn't much of a plot but it's driven by situations and emotions. Some times it feels like the whole Totoro thing is the figment of the two kids imagination. For instance, in the first encounter with Totoro, the younger child Mei, who follows little Totoros into the forest ,goes down a tree hole (reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland) and falls onto the giant Totoro ,where she falls asleep. Later she's found asleep in the thick bush by her sister and father and when she follows the same trail ,she finds herself at the same mouth of the same bush ,a little further from where she went in, indicating that she might have dreamed the whole thing. Later in the Bus Stop scene, when we see Totoro standing beside Satsuko, the elder sister, if you watch closely ,is drawn with droopy eyes , making us once again question the reality of all this. That's when all the truth comes to light when Totoro gives them the small leaf bag with tree seeds, cementing his existence in reality. Also in the end Cat Bus ,that we first saw at the Bus Stop, helps Satsuki find her sister and takes them to their mother at hospital and putting their minds to ease regarding their mother's condition. Totoro plays out as Modern Fairy tale , a well made mixture of emotions,suspense,mystery and magic that rouses the child in you with all the spectrum of emotions that we kept inside as a child, that made us all one ,Once.....


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