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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12
Cast
Daveigh Chase
Suzanne Pleshette
Jason Marsden
David Ogden
John Ratzenberger.
Directors
Hayao Miyazaki.
Screenwriters
Hayao Miyazaki.
Running Time
125 minutes

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Spirited Away


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Plot
With her parents transformed into pigs after straying into what seems to be an abandoned theme park, a spoilt ten year-old girl takes a job in a bathhouse belonging to a wizened old crone and vows to deliver her family from its plight.


Review
We're all used to the Hollywood ballyhoo that accompanies the release of a new cartoon. But, for once, the fuss is entirely justified (and not a merchandising opportunity in sight), as Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece has already notched up the notable double of the Golden Bear at Berlin (which it shared with Bloody Sunday) and an Academy Award.

It has also broken all Japanese box office records, becoming the first film to open in the States having already racked up $200 million. For this UK release, subtitled and dubbed options are available, depending on the venue. Pixar's John Lasseter has handled dubbing duties with typical sensitivity and, thus, opened up this magical experience to young and old alike.

Owing as much to Eastern mythology as to the works of Lewis Carroll or Mervyn Peake, this is an epic with a decidedly personal touch. The plot is gloriously labyrinthine and, as in most Miyazaki films, the quest element is key. But it's subservient to the themes of self-discovery and the value of relationships and, consequently, the tone and scale of the action feels much closer to the little-seen My Neighbour Totoro than the overrated Princess Mononoke.

There are still numerous flights of fancy, however, as characters constantly shift shapes - Chihiro's parents turn into pigs, the evil Yubaba into a sinister bird, the timid No Face into a rampaging carnivore, Okutaresama the malodorous monster into a benign river spirit, and the kindly but mysterious Haku into a dragon. Then there's the spider-like boilerman, Kamaji, and his scurrying soot-ball assistants, who help Chihiro escape the forbidding bathhouse on a ghostly railway.

But what really fires the imagination is the beauty and ingenuity of the wonderland that lies at the end of a tunnel leading off from the quiet country road where Chihiro and her parents get lost. Moreover, the fact that Miyazaki and his team hand-draw the images before they're digitally coloured and animated gives them an artistry that has been woefully lacking from so many recent American features.


Verdict
Despite a dip midway through, this is a captivating fantasy that sets a new benchmark for animation.


Reviewed by Patrick Peters


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Average user rating for Spirited Away
Empire Star Rating

Spirited Away

Going to keep it short. One of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. It never fails to get to me when Chihiro and Haku are falling together towards the end. See it, if you haven't already. It's utterly moving, one of my favourite films of all time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MaddiEx at 15:11, 25 June 2011 | Report This Post


what a master piece!

i've watched it ages ago and i watched it again because of the work. man i thought this movie was good when i first watched it. but i was wrong. when i watched it again. it was great! It shows the triditional japanese barth house which it doesn't exist anymore. well there's such a thing called "spa" but it's bit different from the bath house. anyway, the way Hayao miyazaki used the water in the film shows the strong relationship between a boy who's know as haku (well he's a dragon to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by air_hiker at 10:55, 05 January 2010 | Report This Post


continued

...Also they will often show the world through a child's eyes, which is at once beautiful appealing to both adults and children alike, because not everyone is an adult, but everyone has been a child at some point, so can relate to even small things, such as moving house or getting lost. Another feature of the film is once more, Ghibli have adopted the help of the talented Joe Hisaishi to set the film to music. If you haven't done so already, watch the film again and listen to the music in t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jeikobu88 at 11:55, 22 August 2009 | Report This Post


Spirited Away was the one of the first animes that I ever watched, and was recommended to me by some friends at university who had a passion for such films. And when I watched it for the first time, I wasn't that impressed - I thought it was quite well done, had a certain charm to it which was deserving of some credit, but did not strike me as amazing. However, recently, I watched it again, with the experience of a lot more animes under my belt, and a greater knowledge of their themes, workings ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jeikobu88 at 11:51, 22 August 2009 | Report This Post


Spirited Away

Just amazing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by a workclock orange at 02:44, 29 July 2009 | Report This Post


Amazing To Look At.

Spirited Away is the begining for me to watch Anime and many of Miyazki's beautiful films. It starts off with ten year old Chihiro moaning about moving away to a new place, wishing to go back with her friends and not restarting her life again. Then her father takes a wrong turn to find a mysterious tunnel which they go through and think it's a abounded theme park. Well, they were wrong. After meeting Haku, Chihiro falls in a horrifying nightmare as her parents have turned into pigs and have to w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:04, 05 February 2009 | Report This Post


Basically

Breathtakingly amazing ... More

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Posted by DJ Funktris at 15:07, 29 March 2008 | Report This Post


The greatest film ever created in my eyes

Referring to Minotaur's comment, you are an idiot. A twat of the lowest i.q. You have no idea about good taste and what a good movie is, "move on to life"? How can you possibly say such a thing, hwo can anybody say such an ignorant thing about one of the bnest films ever created. If we were to draw something that links in with real life it would be the most boring load of tripe ever created. That is why Hayao Myazaki has suceeded so much in life, because his wild imagination coems to l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Onepiece34 at 13:15, 04 July 2007 | Report This Post


Spirited Away

I am going to make this short and sweet. A truly enchanting film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Patrick Evans at 17:04, 17 April 2007 | Report This Post


Spirited away

A good storyline, But Hayao Miyizaki has got to wake up, he needs to step out of his fantasy world and move on to life. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by minotaur3004 at 14:34, 16 April 2007 | Report This Post


Beautiful and Moving

I never write reviews of films, but I have felt compelled to write this as it realy did move me so much. More than any other animated film has done befre. An excellent piece of film making in every way. If you havent seen this, you will love it. One of the only films that ive hardly heard any critisism of. Breathtaking, brilliant and beautiful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Squave at 15:16, 15 March 2007 | Report This Post


Hayao Miyazaki is amazing

i saw spirited away last year and i thought it was good, but after seeing laputa: castle in the sky yesterday on channel 4 it doesnt compare. laputa is much better that spirited away. ive just watched Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind but Laputa: Castle in the Sky is by far the best of the three. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mikepdaly25 at 22:58, 24 February 2007 | Report This Post


Spirited Away

definately the greatest miyazaki movie-ever. I rented this movie from the local choices because i had a 50p off voucher-i just couldnt resist- I thought oh this looks good and empire gave it 5/5 so i rented it stunned i started watchin more and more japeneese anime. thats how it all started. spirited away is truely legendary and if you havent seen it rent it immediately I ORDER YOU. this movie changed my viewing pleasure. and most people may think "Oh its just some girl with a weird name th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 20:41, 05 February 2007 | Report This Post


Spirited Away

definately the greatest miyazaki movie-ever. I rented this movie from the local choices because i had a 50p off voucher-i just couldnt resist- I thought oh this looks good and empire gave it 5/5 so i rented it stunned i started watchin more and more japeneese anime. thats how it all started. spirited away is truely legendary and if you havent seen it rent it immediately I ORDER YOU. this movie changed my viewing pleasure. and most people may think "Oh its just some girl with a weird name th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rockerjo at 20:41, 05 February 2007 | Report This Post


An incredible achievement

I thought this film was breathtaking! Since the previous anime classics Akira and Ghost in the Shell pushing the dark, dystopian 'cyberpunk' anime genre into the world limelight, interest had waned in one of Japan's most incredible artistic exports. Then in 2003 the world's attention is captured yet again, this time not by another dark, violent Manga piece but by a lovingly crafted 'growing up' fable drawn from the likes of Alice in Wonderland, a story with modern relavance yet strewn with age o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elizabeth2004 at 14:18, 04 February 2007 | Report This Post


An incredible achievement

I thought this film was breathtaking! Since the previous anime classics Akira and Ghost in the Shell pushing the dark, dystopian 'cyberpunk' anime genre into the world limelight, interest had waned in one of Japan's most incredible artistic exports. Then in 2003 the world's attention is captured yet again, this time not by another dark, violent Manga piece but by a lovingly crafted 'growing up' fable drawn from the likes of Alice in Wonderland, a story with modern relavance yet strewn with age o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elizabeth2004 at 14:18, 04 February 2007 | Report This Post


Spirited Away is the best animated film I've ever seen in my life, and it's unlikely that I'll change my mind. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack Li at 13:10, 07 January 2007 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stephe86 at 11:12, 13 October 2006 | Report This Post


Original, epic and beautiful, I love this film, though it's only fault is the varying quality of animation in the middle. Overall, fantastic! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Q.T at 13:39, 31 May 2006 | Report This Post


Original, epic and beautiful, I love this film, though it's only fault is the varying quality of animation in the middle. Overall, fantastic! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Q.T at 13:39, 31 May 2006 | Report This Post


moving

A classic, moving film. Well drawn and animated. A legendary film that conveys innocence and imagination. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 12:16, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


Spirited Away

After reading about the DVD/Video release of Spirited Away, I was instantly interested. It was an excellent film which shot up my list of all time favourite films; to Number 1!!! It was visually stunning. The characters were all fully-rounded, the story blew me away, the art was amazing. But this review is just the tip of the ice-berg of how much I love this movie, there aren't words I can use to describe how much I adore this excellent film. And thanks to Spirited Away winning the Oscar for Bes... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HayaoMiyazakiRules at 17:13, 13 May 2006 | Report This Post


slightly dissapointed

Hyped up too much i think but still really cool and original with some really amazing creations. The ghost guy in the black cloak and mask was really freaky(until he turned into a big blob:(, I thought it was refreshingly slow-moving and reflective. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Those_wedontspeak_of at 23:47, 21 April 2006 | Report This Post


i loved this film. the storytelling here is beautiful and entrancing, which kept me spellbound throughout the picture. remarkable and unforgettable, spirited away has everything a real family film should have ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dazz at 17:33, 09 April 2006 | Report This Post


One word really. Wonderful. Miyazaki's film is a surreal delight, creating a world brimming with life and love. The animation is simply outstanding, each composition a work of art and absolutely breathtaking. The weird and wondeful myriad of creatures are lovingly drawn, and often with great humour and always with warmth. The tale, a moral fable, is knowingly naive as seen through the eyes of its innocent protaganist, and as such achieves a deeper resonance. An epic quest, a tangled adventure th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Grandma Death at 23:13, 08 April 2006 | Report This Post


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