Yubaba: Spirited Away

March 20, 2012 by staff 

Yubaba: Spirited Away, Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi?, lit. “The Spiriting Away of Sen and Chihiro”) is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy-adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film tells the story of Chihiro Ogino, a sullen ten-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood, becomes trapped in an alternate reality that is inhabited by spirits and monsters. After her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba, Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and escape back to the human world.

Miyazaki wrote the script after he decided the film would be based on his friend’s ten-year-old daughter, who came to visit his house each summer. At the time, Miyazaki was developing two personal projects, but they were rejected. Production of Spirited Away began in 2000. During production, Miyazaki based the film’s settings at a museum in Koganei, Tokyo. However, Miyazaki realized the film would be over three hours and decided to cut out several parts of the story for its July 27, 2001 release. Pixar director John Lasseter, a fan of Miyazaki, was approached by Walt Disney Pictures to supervise an English-language translation for the film’s North American release. Lasseter hired Kirk Wise as director and Donald W. Ernst as producer of the adaptation.

When released, Spirited Away became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $274 million worldwide, and receiving critical acclaim. The film overtook Titanic (at the time the top grossing film worldwide) in the Japanese box office to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (tied with Bloody Sunday) and is among the top ten in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.

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