Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. Japan, 2001. Tokuma Shoten, Studio Ghibli, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation, Mitsubishi. Screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki. Cinematography by Atsushi Okui. Produced by Donald W. Ernst, Toshio Suzuki. Music by Joe Hisaishi. Production Design by Norobu Yoshida. Film Editing by Takeshi Seyama. Academy Awards 2002. Toronto International Film Festival 2002.
A young girl is on her way to her new house with her parents when they accidentally get detoured and end up in what looks like an abandoned theme park. What it actually turns out to be is a land of spirits that kidnap her parents and put her in grave danger. Now, to save the two people in the world she loves the most, she must work in a bathhouse for ghosts run by a powerful and fearsome old witch until she can find a way to get herself back home. The animation is exceptionally beautiful, some of the images reaching a level of visual poetry, and the story is colourful and jam-packed with exciting adventures. Its emotional content isn’t as generous as it wants you to think it is, however, and sometimes the process of watching it can be tedious.