Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Narrative Structure Film Review- Spirited Away (2001)

Figure 1
Spirited Away is an animated motion picture from Studio Ghibli. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki who is credited for other hit animations such as Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle. Spirited Away is a film about the adventure of Chihiro Ogino, when she stumbles across the entrance to another world.

Act One
Figure 2
The exposition in this film introduces Chihiro and her parents when they are on the journey moving to their new house. Along the way Chihiro's father tries to find an alternative route to the new home and takes a back road through some woods. The family come across a man made tunnel, and despite Chihiro's reluctance they decided to explore it. The family find what appears to be an abandoned theme park, where there is a food stand. Chihiro's parents help themselves even though she warned them not to. This already separates Chihiro as a character as she acts differently to her parents. She then goes and explore the other buildings, when suddenly everything becomes dark and ghostly figures appear in the street.
Figure 3
Chihiro has now crossed into another world and sets the story's events into motion. She can find no way in getting back and to her horror finds that her parents have been transformed into pigs. Frightened and alone she starts to panic when she realizes that her body is slowly disappearing, fading into nothing.It's at this moment when a boy about the same age as her called Haku stops her disappearance from happening. He then leads her to the bath house, where she can find safety. The plot point at this stage is that Chihiro now needs to find a job at the bath house to maintain her safety and ultimately find a way to save her parents and return home.

Act Two
Figure 4
Chihiro manages to get herself a job at the bath house for spirits by repeatedly asking Yubaba, the woman in charge. The first obstacles that Chihiro now faces are chores and errands that she must carry out in the bath house. At one point she finds a masked figure waiting outside in the rain, which she lets into the bath house. One of the jobs Chihiro does is to help bath a spirit made of dirt and sludge. It is later revealed that the client turned out to be a powerful river spirit, and Chihiro receives high credit from not only the client but also from her fellow workers and Yubaba. However things start to turn bleak as Haku is attacked whilst in the form of a dragon. He is seriously injured and the only way to help him is to repay the debt he owes to Zeniba, the twin sister of Yubaba.

Figure 5
Before Chihiro can help Haku, Yubaba requests her assistance as the masked figure called No Face has turned into monster, and has started attacking the staff of the bath house. This stage of the film is the mid point of the story. At this moment all of Chihiro's problems to solve have been revealed, which leaves the story to start resolving and finish.
Figure 6
Chihiro travels along with No Face and two other characters to see Zeniba. This character is calm and collected and acts almost like a mentor to Chihiro. In this scene the problems start to resolve and Chihiro gets closer to her goal.
Figure 7
When Chihiro returns from seeing Zeniba she is faced with a task. Yubaba has agreed to let Chihiro go home if she can pass a test. This is the climax of the film as everything that the hero has worked for now balances on this moment. If Chihiro doesn't pass the test she will be trapped in that world for the rest of her life.

Act Three
Figure 8
Chihiro passes the test and is able to return to her parents and her world. They don't have any recollection of what happened, which leaves the question if it was real. Chihiro walks with her parents back to their car, and before she gets in, she takes one last look back at the tunnel that lead to the world that only she seems to remember.

Illustration List
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