The Secret World of Arrietty is an adaptation of the classic book The Borrowers, which delights all ages.
I’ve never met a Studio Ghibli film I didn’t like, and Arrietty is no exception. The film itself is a beautiful example of the anime form. The characters are well played, and the story is just as engaging as it was when you read it as a child.
The visuals, while thoroughly Japanese, are unique and compelling. Arrietty’s giant world, a country cottage surrounded by gardens are beautifully illustrated with great quirky details, like the framed postage stamps in the protagonist’s house, and the subtle but clever interactions of the animals and insects that are usually to small to pay mind to or give important actions.
A lot of thought went into the way Arrietty’s world works, and how the borrowers must live, much of it new to this production, as the classic children’s book doesn’t always go into such detail.
The voice performances, though not original to the production – the film is dubbed from Japanese, like all Studio Ghibli productions – are stellar. I wasn’t surprised at the quality of the performances of veterans like Carol Bernett, Amy Poehler, and Will Arnet, but the lead was played by one of Disney’s hand-made pop stars, Bridget Mendler, who does very well, and not just for an amateur. Her performance as Arrietty is sympathetic and moving.
The Blu-ray special features are a bit lacking, but still worth checking out. Personally, I was hoping for some additional behind-the-scenes type stuff, but to no avail. There is a cute music video for the film’s English closing credits theme, which features Mendler reenacting several of the key scenes in the film, and then a behind-the-scenes featurette for video showing a green-screen was used to create the miniaturization effects.
There is also a cool story-board version of the film, which lays the full sound track over top of a panning and zooming display of the original storyboards. It might be the film-geek in me, but I always really like alternate versions of genre movies.
Of course, the main benefit of the Blu-ray is the oportunity to watch The Secret World of Arrietty over and over in hi-fidelity video and sound. If you’ve got children, it’s particularly nice because it’s good for kids, but it’s also a great movie in its own right, and it wouldn’t be a bother to let them watch it every day, askids will with their favorites.