The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) – Review


Borrowers take only what they need.

Hayao Miyazaki‘s The Secret World of ArriettyArrietty is the latest animated film from Studio Ghibli, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, and Hayao Miyazaki of the greatest animators of our time and did not direct, but wrote the screenplay based on Mary Norton‘s novel The Borrowers (1952). Like Miyazaki’s other Oscar® winning animated features (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle), Arrietty features a young female character with the personality that is most adventurous and teeming with curiosity.

Arrietty lived with her parents in the small spaces beneath the floors of Japanese country home. During the day, Arrietty sneaks out to collect plants from the yard to decorate her tiny room–narrowly avoiding the large house cat and crow who are tirelessly trying to make a quick meal of her. Regardless of the concerns of her parents, she still would venture out and forages on her own.

Soon it came time for her first “official” expedition with her father as a borrower. Her task: find tissue paper and a cube of sugar that will last them for months. On this trip, she scores a dressmaker’s pin–the cube of sugar on the other hand, was lost due to her being spotted by Shô, a  boy who arrived at the home earlier to rest for heart surgery.

Naturally, Arrietty and Shô become friends, but there is one human in the house that is not only suspicious of the little things that go missing in the home–Haru–but she eventually finds the place under the floor where the Borrower family lived and stole away her mother, Homily, and put her in a jar. Arrietty asked her friend Shô to help rescue her mom. Eventually, their friendship became an unintentional risk to her family’s safety, causing them to leave the summer house for someplace where humans could no longer pose a danger to them. They went away in a teapot navigated by a borrower ‘wild child’ named Spiller, to continue with their future borrowing adventures.

Although there is the opportunity to view The Secret World of Arrietty in English–Disney hired a different voice cast for American audiences–using the voices of Amy Poehler (as Homily, Arrietty’s mother), Bridgit Mendler as Arrietty; Will Arnett as Pod; Moises Arias as Spiller; and Carol Burnett as the voice of Hara (Haru), I choose to watch the film in its original, Japanese language version of the movie. I did not want to lose the uniqueness of watching a Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece–listening to the English voices ruined the film for me somehow. It just didn’t seem right to me.

This way, the film retained its overall tone and charm I remembered from watching Spirited Away for the first time, and I enjoyed the nanoscience of Arrietty’s world–how the sugar cube measured against her small frame, and the world around her seemed so large and vast–even when she was navigating behind the walls and the large furniture of the house. More impressively, the tiny cups and saucers–how the tea lingered on the surface area or lip of the small teapot and the droplets of water would hang on the leaves–those teeny tiny details are what made the film enjoyable. The only negative thing, I can say about Arrietty, is the film seemed a little short. I wanted to continue to marvel at the detail of Arrietty’s the world and animation that only Miyazaki can create.

Do not be seen by humans–it’s the law of children of the underfloor.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
  • Excellent

  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 2015-02-26

Review Summary:

In a secret world hidden beneath the floorboards, little people called Borrowers live quietly among us.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Tell your friends!